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Lamont Signs Law Allowing Connecticut Absentee Ballots To Be Counted Quicker

Absentee Ballots
John Froschauer

Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says election workers will be able to speed up the absentee ballot counting process. That’s after a new law signed by Governor Ned Lamont on Friday.

Connecticut  law says absentee ballots cannot begin to be counted until the day of the election. The new law would let workers at town clerk’s offices start part of the process the Friday before Election Day.

Merrill said voters put their absentee ballot in an inner, secret envelope that they seal and sign. Then, that secret envelope is put inside an outer mailing envelope and sent to the town clerk’s office. So, local election officials have to open two envelopes.

“Normally we don’t do anything until Election Day. This year only we will allow them to open the outer envelope and get the ballots ready to be opened entirely on Election Day,” Merrill said.

For more information on the 2020 election, visit our voter guide.

Merrill said more than 400 thousand voters have requested absentee ballots for the November election so far. Officials expect the count to take days or weeks.

Lamont said the new law would allow Connecticut town clerks to process and count absentee ballots early and avoid a delay of results on Election Day.

“I don’t want any delays. I want to make sure that Anna and her team are able to start processing those the Friday before Election Day. And at 6 a.m. that morning begin to start counting votes,” Lamont said.

Lamont was referring to Anna Pozniak, the president of the state’s town clerk’s association, who joined him at the signing ceremony.

Pozniak said the clerks are anticipating tens of thousands of more absentee ballots this year during the pandemic. She says the law makes sure voter ballots are kept secure.

“What this legislation allows for is only the opening of the first envelope. And not the opening of the second envelope. So on the morning of the election they would then open and then take out the ballots,” Pozniak said.

The town clerks would run the ballots through tabulators to start counting the votes well before the polls close on Election Day.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.
Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.