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Redistricting Roundup: Colorado redistricting commission releases new proposed congressional maps

Here’s a summary of the week’s noteworthy redistricting news from Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, and Texas.

Colorado: The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission staff released a proposed congressional district map on Sept. 3. This is the first proposed map the commission released since the U.S. Census Bureau distributed block-level data from the 2020 census to states on Aug. 12. The commission is holding public hearings about the newly released maps during the week of Sept. 7.

The Colorado Supreme Court previously ordered on July 26 that the Commission submit final congressional redistricting plans for approval no later than Oct. 1. Colorado was apportioned eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census—a net gain of one seat for the state.

Connecticut: The Connecticut General Assembly Reapportionment Committee will not create congressional and state legislative district maps by the state’s constitutional deadline of Sept. 15, according to The CT Mirror. If the deadline is not met, redistricting in Connecticut will be decided by a nine-member backup commission consisting of eight members appointed by the majority and minority leaders of each chamber of the legislature and a ninth member selected by the eight appointed commission members. Maps determined by the backup commission are not subject to legislative approval. Connecticut previously used this process in 2011 after the committee did not meet the deadline that year.

Iowa: The Iowa Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission announced it would release the first draft of proposed state legislative district maps on Sept. 16. The Iowa Constitution states that the Iowa Supreme Court is responsible for legislative redistricting if the general assembly doesn’t enact new maps before Sept. 15. In April, the Iowa Supreme Court released a statement saying that “the supreme court tentatively plans to meet its constitutional responsibility by implementing a process which permits, to the extent possible, the redistricting framework…to proceed after September 15.”

Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced on Sept. 7 that he was calling a special session of the state legislature to address redistricting and other issues beginning Sept. 20.

Two Democratic state senators filed a lawsuit in federal district court on Sept. 1 arguing that the legislature cannot legally redraw district maps during a special session since the Texas Constitution requires lawmakers to begin the process after the “first regular session after the publication of each United States decennial census.” The lawsuit asks the court to draw interim maps until the state’s next regular legislative session in January 2023.

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Republican Ryan Fazio flips seat in Connecticut Senate special election

A special election was held on Aug. 17 for District 36 of the Connecticut State Senate. Ryan Fazio (R) defeated Alexis Gevanter (D) and John Blankley (I) in the general election. Unofficial results on election night had Fazio winning with 50.1% of the vote with all precincts reporting. Gevanter and Blankley earned 47.6% and 2.3% of the vote, respectively. Fazio will serve for the remainder of the term ending in January 2023.

The seat became vacant after Alex Kasser (D) resigned effective June 22, citing her ongoing divorce proceedings as the reason for her resignation. Kasser was elected in 2018, earning 50.4% of the vote and defeating incumbent Scott Frantz (R). She won re-election in 2020 with 51.4% of the vote.

Heading into the special election, Democrats had a 23-12 majority in the Connecticut Senate with one vacancy. Connecticut has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of August, 51 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 18 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Connecticut held 40 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

Fazio’s win marked the first flipped seat as a result of 2021 state legislative special elections. In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.

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Special election to be held in Connecticut Senate district

A special election is being held on Aug. 17 for District 36 of the Connecticut State Senate. Alexis Gevanter (D), Ryan Fazio (R), and John Blankley (I) are running in the general election. Candidates running for special elections in Connecticut are nominated through party conventions. The winner of the special election will serve until January 2023.

The seat became vacant after Alex Kasser (D) resigned effective June 22, citing her ongoing divorce proceedings as the reason for her resignation. Kasser had represented the district since 2019. She won re-election in 2020 with 51.4% of the vote.

Heading into the special election, Democrats have a 23-12 majority in the Connecticut Senate with one vacancy. Connecticut has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of August, 50 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 18 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Connecticut held 40 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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State legislative special elections, 2021

Connecticut State Senate

Connecticut State Senate District 36



Alex Kasser resigns from Connecticut Senate

Connecticut state Senator Alex Kasser (D) resigned from the legislature on June 22. Kasser, who represented District 36, cited her ongoing divorce proceedings as the reason for her resignation.

In a statement, Kasser said, “It is with deep sadness that I announce my resignation as State Senator. Serving the residents of Connecticut’s 36th Senate district has been a profound honor and a great joy. However, due to personal circumstances, I cannot continue.”

Kasser was first elected to the state Senate in 2018, defeating incumbent Scott Frantz (R), 50% to 49%. She won re-election in 2020, defeating challenger Ryan Fazio (R), 51% to 49%. Before entering politics, Kasser worked as the chair of Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center and as the director of Greening Our Children. She also founded The Parity Partnership, a non-profit organization that works to achieve equality for women in business.

When a vacancy occurs in the Connecticut state Senate, the governor must call for a special election within ten days. After the governor declares the special election, it must be held within 46 days.

Ballotpedia has identified 57 vacancies in state legislatures in 2021. Twenty-eight of these vacancies were in seats previously held by Democrats, and 29 were in seats held by Republicans. Thirty-nine of the vacancies have been filled.

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Connecticut voters to decide early voting amendment in 2022

On May 27, the Connecticut State Legislature voted to send a constitutional amendment to voters in 2022 that would authorize the state legislature to provide by law for early voting. Currently, Connecticut does not permit early voting.

As of April 2021, 38 states and the District of Columbia permitted early voting. Early voting allows citizens to cast ballots in person at a polling place prior to an election. In states that permit early voting, a voter does not have to provide an excuse for being unable to vote on election day.

Cheri Quickmire, the Connecticut executive director of Common Cause, a progressive 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, said, “We trust Connecticut’s voters will embrace this additional option when it is on the ballot next year. In states that have Early Voting, people use it. In Georgia, for instance, more than two-thirds of November’s voters used in-person early voting to cast their ballots. In Florida, almost half of November’s voters cast their ballots early, in person.”

The Connecticut Constitution provides two paths for the Connecticut General Assembly to refer constitutional amendments to the ballot: (1) a 75 percent vote in each chamber of the legislature during one legislative session, or (2) a simple majority vote (50%+1) in each chamber of the legislature during two legislative sessions.

The constitutional amendment was introduced into the Connecticut General Assembly as House Joint Resolution 161 (HJR 161) during the 2019 legislative session. On April 24, 2019, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed HJR 161, meeting the three-fourths vote required to approve a constitutional amendment during one legislative session. As there was one vacant seat in the House, 113 votes were needed to approve the amendment during one session. The vote on HJR 161 was 125 to 24. On May 8, 2019, the Connecticut State Senate passed HJR 161 by less than the three-fourths vote required to approve an amendment during one session. The vote was 23 to 13. At least 27 votes were required to meet the three-fourths threshold.

As the constitutional amendment was approved during the 2019 legislative session by a simple majority vote in each chamber, legislators needed to approve the amendment again during the 2021–2022 legislative session by a simple majority vote. The amendment was introduced as House Joint Resolution (HJR 59). It was approved by the House on May 6, 2021, by a vote of 115-26 with 10 absent or not voting. On May 27, 2021, the Senate approved HJR 59 by a vote of 26-9 with one absent.

This is the first amendment referred to the 2022 statewide ballot in Connecticut. Between 1996 and 2020, voters approved 71% (5 of 7) ballot measures that appeared on statewide ballots in Connecticut.

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Clark Chapin confirmed as Connecticut’s Republican auditor of public accounts

Clark Chapin (R) assumed office as an auditor of public accounts in Connecticut on May 6. The Office of the Auditors of Public Accounts is a legislative agency in the Connecticut state government responsible for the state’s financial and accounting functions. Unlike any other state, Connecticut’s auditing agency is led by two partisan auditors—one Democrat and one Republican. Chapin occupies the Republican seat and will serve alongside the Democratic auditor, John C. Geragosian. 

Republican members of the Connecticut General Assembly nominated Chapin on April 8 to fill the vacancy created by Robert Kane’s (R) death in February. The General Assembly confirmed Chapin as the new Republican auditor on May 6, for a term beginning that day. He will serve for the remainder of Kane’s term, which ends on June 30, 2023.

Chapin was a member of the Connecticut State Senate, representing District 30 from 2013 to 2017. He did not seek reelection in 2016. Before being elected to the state Senate, Chapin was a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives, representing the 67th District from 2001 to 2013.

Forty-eight (48) states have a statewide auditor, with New York and Tennessee being the two states that do not. The state auditor’s office belongs to either the executive or legislative branch, depending on the state. While both offices are similar in function, a legislative auditor functions primarily under the state legislature and is not considered a state executive office. Connecticut is one of 23 states that have legislative auditors. Thirty-three (33) states have executive branch auditors, and eight states have both.

According to the Office of the Connecticut Auditors of Public Accounts, the agency “can trace its origin to a charter granted in 1662 to the Colony of Connecticut by King Charles the Second of England… Its organization, with two state auditors not of the same political party, makes Connecticut unique among state auditing agencies. From its colonial origin, Connecticut’s audit function has been performed by more than a single auditor.”

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Special election to be held in Connecticut House district

A special election is being held on April 27 for District 145 of the Connecticut House of Representatives. Corey Paris (D) and J.D. Ospina (R) are running in the general election. The winner will serve until January 2023.

The seat became vacant after Patricia Miller (D) won a special election to represent Connecticut State Senate District 27 on March 2. Miller had represented the district since 2009. She won re-election in 2020 with 77% of the vote.

Heading into the special election, Democrats have a 96-54 majority in the Connecticut House with one vacancy. Connecticut has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of April, 33 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Connecticut held 40 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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Special election to be held in Connecticut House district

Voters will decide a special election for District 112 of the Connecticut House of Representatives on April 13. Nicholas Kapoor (D), Tony Scott (R), and William Furrier (Independent Party) are running in the general election. The winner will serve until January 2023.

The seat became vacant after the resignation of J.P. Sredzinski (R) on February 17. Sredzinski had represented the district since 2015.

Heading into the special election, Democrats have a 96-53 majority in the Connecticut House with two vacancies. Connecticut has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of April, 33 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Connecticut held 40 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

Additional Reading:

  • State legislative special elections, 2021
  • Connecticut House of Representatives
  • Connecticut House of Representatives, District 112