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Connecticut expands absentee voting

"I voted" sticker at a polling place
Chion Wolf

Gov. Ned Lamont signed a bill into law Friday that will expand absentee voting rights.

Anyone who will be out of town during any part of the voting day will now be able to vote absentee. Previously, voters had to be out of town for the entirety of the voting day -- meaning that if an absentee voter was in town for even one minute while the polls were open, they would technically be committing a felony.

The bill also broadens the language about absentee voting due to illness. Previously, sickness was only a valid excuse if the voter was sick; now, illness in general is considered a valid reason to vote by absentee. This includes long-term caretakers for people with chronic illnesses and disabilities.

The bill passed with bipartisan support, though some Republicans raised concerns about voting fraud.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said instances of absentee voter fraud are rare.

“These claims that there’s absentee ballot fraud are very overstated. They are a drop in the bucket, and certainly worth overlooking to guarantee that everyone has the right to vote.”

This bill is different from the constitutional referendum that will be on the ballot this fall, which would expand early in-person voting to anyone.