Connecticut Early Voting Amendment, Question 1 (2014)

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Question 1
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Referred by:Connecticut State Legislature
Topic:Elections
Status:On the ballot
The Connecticut Early Voting Amendment, Question 1 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Connecticut as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The proposed measure would allow the state legislature to expand early voting in the state.[1] Specifically, it would permit the legislature to eliminate restrictions on early voting and allow residents greater access to absentee ballots.[2]

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official ballot question reads as follows:[3]

Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to remove restrictions concerning absentee ballots and to permit a person to vote without appearing at a polling place on the day of an election?

[4]

Ballot summary

The ballot summary reads as follows:[3]

If this constitutional amendment passes, it would give the General Assembly greater authority to pass a law allowing voters to cast their ballots without having to (1) appear at their polling place on election day or (2) provide a reason for voting by absentee ballot.

If the amendment passes, it would also eliminate the constitutional deadlines by which election moderators must submit their election returns to their town clerks and the secretary of the state (i.e., within 3 and 10 days after an election, respectively). The Connecticut General Statutes set earlier deadlines by which they must submit these returns (e.g., midnight on election day to the secretary of the state).

Further Explanation

The state constitution contains provisions regarding the administration of elections in Connecticut, including requiring voters to cast their ballots at their polling place on election day, unless they qualify to vote by absentee ballot. Under the constitution, voters may qualify for an absentee ballot if they will be out of town, are sick or have a physical disability, or the tenets of their religion prohibit secular activity on election day. Because these restrictions are in the constitution, the General Assembly does not currently have the authority to pass a law that changes them. The constitutional amendment would eliminate these restrictions. [4]

Constitutional changes

If approved, the following changes would be made to Section 7 of article 6, Section 4 of article 4 and Section 9 of article 3 of the Connecticut Constitution. Material to be deleted is indicated by strikeout, and material to be added is indicated by underline.[5]

Section 7 of article sixth of the Constitution is amended to read as follows:

The general assembly may provide by law for voting in the choice of any officer to be elected or upon any question to be voted on at an election by qualified voters of the state who [are unable to appear at the polling place on the day of election because of absence from the city or town of which they are inhabitants or because of sickness or physical disability or because the tenets of their religion forbid secular activity] do not appear in person at a polling place on the day of an election.

Section 4 of article fourth of the Constitution is amended to read as follows:

[At the meetings of the electors in the respective towns held quadrennially as herein provided for the election of state officers, the presiding officers shall receive the votes and shall count and declare the same in the presence of the electors.] The votes at the election of state officers shall be counted and declared in open meeting by the presiding officers in the several towns. The presiding officers shall make and certify duplicate lists of the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each. One list shall be delivered [within three days] to the town clerk, and [within ten days after such meeting,] the other shall be delivered under seal to the secretary of the state. The votes so delivered shall be counted, canvassed and declared by the treasurer, secretary, and comptroller, within the month of November. The vote for treasurer shall be counted, canvassed and declared by the secretary and comptroller only; the vote for secretary shall be counted, canvassed and declared by the treasurer and comptroller only; and the vote for comptroller shall be counted, canvassed and declared by the treasurer and secretary only. A fair list of the persons and number of votes given for each, together with the returns of the presiding officers, shall be, by the treasurer, secretary and comptroller, made and laid before the general assembly, then next to be held, on the first day of the session thereof. In the election of governor, lieutenant-governor, secretary, treasurer, comptroller and attorney general, the person found upon the count by the treasurer, secretary and comptroller in the manner herein provided, to be made and announced before December fifteenth of the year of the election, to have received the greatest number of votes for each of such offices, respectively, shall be elected thereto; provided, if the election of any of them shall be contested as provided by statute, and if such a contest shall proceed to final judgment, the person found by the court to have received the greatest number of votes shall be elected. If two or more persons shall be found upon the count of the treasurer, secretary and comptroller to have received an equal and the greatest number of votes for any of said offices, and the election is not contested, the general assembly on the second day of its session shall hold a joint convention of both houses, at which, without debate, a ballot shall be taken to choose such officer from those persons who received such a vote; and the balloting shall continue on that or subsequent days until one of such persons is chosen by a majority vote of those present and voting. The general assembly shall have power to enact laws regulating and prescribing the order and manner of voting for such officers. The general assembly shall by law prescribe the manner in which all questions concerning the election of a governor or lieutenant-governor shall be determined.

Section 9 of article third of the Constitution is amended to read as follows:

At all elections for members of the general assembly the presiding officers in the several towns shall [receive the votes of the electors, and] count and declare [them] the votes of the electors in open meeting. The presiding officers shall make and certify duplicate lists of the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each. One list shall be delivered [within three days] to the town clerk, and [within ten days after such meeting,] the other shall be delivered under seal to the secretary of the state. [4]


Support

The amendment was sponsored in the legislature by Rep. J. Brendan Sharkey (D-88). The measure was passed in the state legislature along party lines, with Democrats supporting the effort.[6]

HJR 36 "Yes" votes

The following members of the Connecticut State Legislature voted in favor of placing this measure on the ballot.[6]

Note: A yes vote on HJR 36 merely referred the question to voters and did not necessarily mean these legislators approved of the stipulations laid out in Question 1.

Senate

House

Supporters

Arguments

  • Sen. Anthony Musto (D-22) said, "This bill will allow voters to remove the obstructions preventing early and no-excuse absentee ballot voting, ensuring that all of Connecticut’s voices are heard."[1]
  • Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) said, "Voting is a great responsibility and this amendment assures the voting rights of every Connecticut resident whether or not they can get to the polls on Election Day. While some states are working to suppress voter turnout, we are working to encourage greater turnout by increasing penalties on any effort to block voter access and moving our electoral system into the 21st Century."[1]

Opposition

The measure was passed in the legislature along party lines, with Republican members opposing the effort.[1]

HJR 36 "No" votes

The following members of the Connecticut State Legislature voted in favor of placing this measure on the ballot.[6]

Note: A yes vote on HJR 36 merely referred the question to voters and did not necessarily mean these legislators approved of the stipulations laid out in Question 1.

Senate

House

Arguments

  • Critics have argued the measure is "vaguely worded and could lead to a host of unanticipated changes to the way Connecticut conducts elections."[2]
  • Sen. Scott Frantz (R-36) said, “It is, in my opinion, a carte blanche to change voting laws going forward."[2]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2014 ballot measures

The question asked of poll respondents by this open, rolling online poll reads as follows:[7]

Should all of Connecticut voters be able to cast absentee ballots by mail? [4]

Connecticut Question 1 (2014)
Poll Support OpposeUndecidedSample Size
ISideWith.com Poll
2/20/2014 - 9/17/2014
58%42%0%28,336
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Connecticut Constitution

Connecticut has an either/or system, which means that a proposed amendment must be passed by simple majority in two separate legislative sessions, or by a supermajority vote of 75% during one session. Therefore, it was possible for the proposed measure to appear on either the 2012 or 2014 statewide ballot.

On Wednesday, April 4, 2012, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted 97-50 to approve the amendment. This number, however, was shy of the 114 'yes' votes needed to pass the measure onto the 2012 ballot. This did leave open the possibility of making the ballot in 2014, provided the amendment gained approval in the 2013 session.[8]

The House voted 90-49 in approval of the amendment on April 17, 2013. The Senate then passed the resolution 22-14 on May 8, thereby passing the measure on to voters in the 2014 general election.[1]

House vote

April 17, 2013, House vote

Connecticut HJR 36 House vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 90 64.75%
No4935.25%

Senate vote

May 8, 2013, Senate vote

Connecticut HJR 36 Senate vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 22 61.11%
No1438.89%

See also

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