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Secretary of the state reminds residents about safe voting measures during a pandemic

Chion Wolf

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is pushing to get out the vote in another election altered by COVID-19.

In the 2020 election, around 80% of registered Connecticut voters cast a ballot -- the highest turnout in at least two decades. Merrill attributes some of that success to the use of absentee ballots during a pandemic.

So, as the state gears up for another day at the polls, Merrill wanted to remind residents that with the pandemic still going “any voter can use an absentee ballot in 2021.”

Under Connecticut law, voters need a specific reason to get an absentee ballot. Sickness qualifies as one of them, and last year the state argued that COVID-19 should fall under that definition. Lawmakers approved that use of absentee ballots last year and extended it to this year.

But the pandemic provision is temporary, and Merrill is hoping for a state constitutional amendment that would permanently allow early voting and no-excuse absentee voting.

For this year, Merrill noted that residents can still register to vote online. The deadline for that is Oct. 26.

She did say that it’s getting a little late to request an absentee ballot by mail, but voters can go to their city or town hall to apply for a ballot.

People voting absentee also can still deposit their ballots into drop boxes at city or town halls. The drop boxes are another pandemic-time voting measure.

Merrill added that in-person voting remains a safe option and that all polling places will be open as usual.

Most municipalities will be electing board and commission members. There are mayoral races in Stamford, Danbury and Norwalk.

Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. She loves hearing what you thought of her stories or story ideas you have so please email her at aoshinskie@ctpublic.org.
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