Tag: absentee

New Law Speeds Up Absentee Ballot Processing In CT

CONNECTICUT — Gov. Ned Lamont has signed legislation that will provide municipal election officials with the option of having more time to begin the process of verifying absentee ballots that have been received for the upcoming general election.

The use of absentee ballots is expected to significantly increase for the Nov. 3 election due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The bill the governor signed Friday allows local election officials to open the outer envelope used in absentee ballots and verify the legitimacy of the inner envelope beginning on Oct. 30 at 5:00 p.m., rather than 6:00 a.m. on Election Day, as was previously required. The inner envelope, which contains a voter’s submitted ballot, still cannot be opened or the ballot counted until the day of the election.

Beginning the verification process on Oct. 30 is entirely optional for each municipality, and requires a joint agreement between a local town clerk and registrar. Municipalities that choose to use these pre-counting procedures must notify the Secretary of the State in advance and obtain her approval.

“In America, every voter has the right to cast their ballot and have that ballot accurately counted, even during a pandemic,” Lamont said. “This slight change in our election laws will provide some extra time for our registrars and town clerks to do their necessary administrative work, while ensuring that each ballot is safe and secure.”

Lamont is reminding voters that every municipality in the state has been given at least one drop-box for voters to drop off their applications to request an absentee ballot, as well as the actual absentee ballots. All of the drop-boxes are located in secure spots outdoors, and most towns and cities have placed them at their local town hall buildings. Using the drop-boxes is a good idea to ensure that the ballots do not get delayed in the mail, the governor said.

“Your voice is your vote,” Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz said. “No voter should have to choose between their health and exercising the fundamental right to vote. This legislation protects the integrity of our elections by ensuring that every valid vote cast in our state is counted accurately.”

The legislation is House Bill 7005, An Act Concerning a Municipal Election Monitor at the 2020 State Election and Processing of Absentee Ballots for the 2020 State Election. Earlier this summer, Lamont signed a bill granting all registered voters in Connecticut the ability to vote in the general election utilizing an absentee ballot due to the need to socially distance because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Absentee ballots are a proven, reliable, and safe option for voters, and every valid vote cast will be a vote counted in the state of Connecticut,” Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said. “This modest change to the process will make it a little easier for local election officials as they prepare for Election Day. No one should have to choose between protecting their health and casting their ballot.”

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Federal judge rejects Indiana absentee voting law, extending ballot deadline

A federal judge has rejected Indiana’s noon Election Day deadline to receive absentee ballots, allowing Hoosiers more time to mail in absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 presidential election.

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The Tuesday evening ruling from U.S. Southern Indiana District Judge Sarah Evans Barker means absentee ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received on or before Nov. 13 will be counted.



a stack of flyers on a table: Stacks of envelopes prepare to be stuffed with absentee ballots at the Marion County election board service center in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. Because seasonal election workers are processing thousands of applications, there is room for human error. Election board leaders encourage voters who qualify for an absentee ballot to send their applications early and bring ballot errors to the board's attention as soon as possible.


© Jenna Watson/IndyStar
Stacks of envelopes prepare to be stuffed with absentee ballots at the Marion County election board service center in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. Because seasonal election workers are processing thousands of applications, there is room for human error. Election board leaders encourage voters who qualify for an absentee ballot to send their applications early and bring ballot errors to the board’s attention as soon as possible.

Julia Vaughn, policy director at government watchdog Common Cause Indiana, said the ruling was “a huge win for Hoosier voters.”

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“We’ve seen several rulings over the past couple of weeks from the federal courts, but I think the impact from this is probably going to be the biggest,” Vaughn said. 

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill’s office told IndyStar on Wednesday they were “reviewing and considering our options.” 

Common Cause Indiana, which filed the lawsuit, said that the Nov. 3 noon absentee deadline constituted “an undue burden on the fundamental right to vote” during the coronavirus pandemic, according to court documents. 

Barker in her decision rejected an argument that allowing an extra 10 days to receive ballots would undermine the election process.

Rather, she said ensuring all valid absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 “should in fact help assuage” concerns over the legitimacy of the results.

“The burden imposed by Indiana’s noon Election Day receipt deadline, which threatens to disenfranchise thousands of eligible absentee voters for reasons that, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, are outside their control, is very substantial,” Barker wrote.

Barker also dismissed arguments that the extended deadline would lead to more absentee ballots cast, overwhelming election officials who must count them.

“We find that this additional administrative strain is not so compelling as to outweigh the burden faced by voters,” she wrote. 

“An order extending the noon Election Day receipt deadline for mail-in absentee ballots is straightforward and does not affect the procedure a voter must follow to properly submit an absentee mail-in ballot,” she said in the decision. “There is no impact on the voting process itself, nor any real risk of voter confusion or dissuasion from casting a ballot.”

A number of Indiana laws regarding voting procedures are under review by the federal court. 

In August, the court ruled that the state cannot purge voters with suspected address changes from election rolls until they notify voters and wait at least two election cycles before removing them if they don’t respond. Common Cause Indiana was also

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