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2020 Connecticut Voter Guide

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Lea Trusty
/
WSHU

2020 Connecticut Voter Guide

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Credit Lea Trusty / WSHU
Local officials are preparing for a historic election as they plan around public health concerns due to the pandemic, as well as potential delays with the US Postal Service. WSHU is bringing you this guide based on several interviews with election officials: the Connecticut Secretary of the State, local registrars of voters and town clerks.

We aim to help you ensure that your vote counts. Have a question you don’t see answered here? Please contact our newsroom.

IMPORTANT ELECTION DATES

ABSENTEE/MAIL-IN VOTING

IN-PERSON VOTING

IMPORTANT ELECTION DATES

Right now: Confirm you are registered to vote in Connecticut using this link. If you are not, follow the links on that webpage to register. You can also register in-person at a central polling location on Election day, but this has caused long lines and delays in the past and officials recommend planning farther ahead.

Print out, complete and submit your absentee ballot request form, if you did not already receive an application in the mail. You can only file one absentee ballot request application. Voters can also submit this request form in person at the Town/City Clerk’s office, if concerned about potential USPS delays.

As soon as possible: Fill out your absentee ballot according to the guidelines. (Ex: be sure to sign your ballot as well as the inner envelope, and make sure NOT to put multiple ballots from your household in that inner envelope)

Drop off your completed absentee ballot at the secure boxes in front of your local town/city clerk’s office. Connecticut Secretary of the State strongly urges voters to avoid using the U.S. Postal Service to mail the ballot.

Below are important dates regarding voting leading up to Election Day.



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ABSENTEE/MAIL-IN VOTING

Can I vote absentee/by mail?
Any registered Connecticut voter is eligible to request an absentee ballot for the 2020 General Election. Governor Ned Lamont signed an executive order that counts “fear of contracting Coronavirus” as an excuse for illness under Connecticut’s absentee voting law. You can check the box that says “COVID-19” as the excuse for requesting an absentee ballot on the request form you sent to your town clerk asking for an absentee ballot. Connecticut has one of the most strict criteria for absentee voting.

How do I get an absentee ballot? Where?
You can request an absentee ballot by printing out this form and dropping it off (or mailing it) to your city or town clerk’s office. After October 2nd, when ballots will be printed and ready to distribute, you can got to the Clerk’s office to fill out the request form and pick up an absentee ballot there. New Haven’s Clerk also plans to host some absentee ballot submission days, where city officials will have socially distanced outdoor tables for folks to fill out absentee ballots in-person and election officials can help answer questions on the spot.

How do I fill out an absentee ballot?
When you receive your requested absentee ballot from your town clerk’s office in the mail, or pick up your absentee ballot from the town clerk, fill it out completely according to the instructions. The Town of Madison, Conn., has a generic absentee ballot example here.



What are the most common mistakes made filling out absentee ballots? How can I avoid them?
Common mistakes made that disqualified absentee ballots in the 2020 primary include: stuffing multiple ballots into one envelope for a whole household, not signing the outside of the envelope, or forgetting to sign where indicated or required. The Washington Post recommends avoiding stray marks or tears on the ballot. Your signature will also be cross-checked with one your local elections officials have on file.

Do I need postage stamps to submit my absentee ballot by the Nov 3 Election deadline?
Prepaid return postage is guaranteed included for absentee ballots, but Connecticut's Secretary of the State advises dropping off your ballot in person at the secure drop-off boxes located in front of each town or city hall. This is after the U.S. Postal Service warned election officials that election mail could face delays. If you choose to mail your ballot, the Postal Service recommends voters do it as early as possible — and a week before the election at the latest.

Can I help my elderly or disabled family member fill out their absentee ballot?
If someone is not able to fill out their ballot on their own, only an immediate family member or healthcare provider can become a “designee” on the ballot. That means they sign the ballot to say they can assist or be present when that person fills out their ballot. If no family member or health care provider is available, see the Secretary of the State website for how to ask if a police officer, registrar of voters in the city/town may be able to help.

How do I vote if I have recently been evicted or filed a change of address?
New residents of Connecticut must register to vote by Oct. 27, but the Secretary of the State recommends to do so sooner. People who have changed addresses within the same town should also update with the Registrars of Voters office in their town by that date.

What if I don’t get my absentee ballot in time or decide to change my mind about my vote?
Absentee ballots must be received by Election Day in order to be counted. If an absentee ballot arrives on Election Day, it is held until after 8 p.m. when the absentee ballot is compared to the official Election Day checklist. If the voter who returned the absentee ballot on Election Day has voted in person in a polling place, the absentee ballot is not opened and is rejected. This procedure ensures that no voter can vote twice, even by mistake.

How do I find out if there was a problem with my absentee ballot? How do I fix it?
This year, the Secretary of the State says voters can keep tabs on their request for an absentee ballot and confirm if your absentee ballot was received by your Town Clerk online. If anyone has a concern about their absentee ballot and wants to fix it, they should contact their town clerk.

IN-PERSON VOTING

When do I need to register to vote?
Connecticut offers Election Day voter registration at a designated central polling location in each city or town. You are eligible for same-day voter registration if you are at least 18 years old on Election Day, a U.S. citizen and you have completed parole and confinement for any felony charges. Check here to confirm the location of the same-day voter registration polling place.

What if I'm a student?
Secretary of state Denise Merrill says college towns previously had issues with same day registration because students were not aware that they can’t go to just any polling location to vote with same-day registration. Merrill urges students to plan ahead and look up the information online.

Can I register to vote online?
You can register to vote online. Your application must be submitted or received by a voter registration agency by the seventh day before an election (OR you may register in person with your Registrar of Voters by the seventh day before an election).

Do I need an ID to cast a ballot on Election Day?
Connecticut does not require photo ID to vote. Check the Secretary of the State’s webpage for more details on how a voter could can sign an affidavit instead of presenting ID, and may be asked to provide a copy of a current utility bill or to fill out a provisional ballot.

How do I find my polling place?
Check out the Secretary of the State polling place locator. Towns have to ask permission to change a polling location in advance, so that voters can be notified, but if you have trouble pleas let us know at our Voting Tipline.

Will polling locations be safe, sanitary and socially distanced?
The state made grant money available to cities and towns to prepare for purchasing personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer and other pandemic hygiene safety measures. However, each town or city will determine how to spend that money and set up safe polling locations on their own. As of September 9th, Connecticut has no law mandating folks wear a mask at the polls, but the Governor’s order to wear masks in public places would apply.

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