In Lieu Of Early Voting CT Has A New AB Voting Option For The 2022 Election

The land of “steady habits” Is one of only four states without early voting but fear of COVID Gives Residents Another Way To Vote Without Going To The Polls

By John McNamara

A pandemic-inspired change in CT’s Absentee Voting Law will be the closest residents will come to early voting in the November 8th mid-term election as voters decide whether to change the state Constitution to allow a real form of early voting in future elections.

In October, 33 states will open polling locations to vote early at various starting dates. Six states, including the battlegrounds of Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia, opened for voting in the last week of September.

The General Assembly, still concerned over the lingering effects of the pandemic, made a fix to the statute this year enabling any voter to avoid voting in person: “This includes voters who are unable to go to their polling place because of a sickness or physical disability of another person, or because of the continued presence of a sickness, such as the COVID-19 virus. That provision has been added to the customary reasons for an Absentee Ballot (AB) that include military service, absence from the town, sickness, physical disability, conflict with a religious holiday on election day and being a poll worker other than at your own voting place. The change can hardly be called a reform toward more voter access but it’s a legal loophole to allow no-excuse AB voting within the strictures of the state Constitution.

The November ballot will ask voters to amend Connecticut’s constitution to make voting possible for a period ahead of Election Day. Currently the state constitution’s 18th century prohibition on voting unless you show up at the polls leaves the Nutmeg state in the company of MIssissippi and three others without the early vote option.

A 2014 referendum to drop the early voting restriction lost. That setback for election reformers eight years ago may be attributed, in part, to a wordy, multi-faceted question that 52% of the electorate turned down: “Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to remove restriction concerning absentee ballots and to permit a person to vote without appearing at a polling place on the day of an election?”

This year the ballot question makes the issue clearer: “Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to permit the General Assembly to provide for early voting? Proponents can hope that the clarity wins this time because they don’t seem worried about the outcome. The endorsements for Question 1 have been plentiful from Democratic pols and good government groups but there is very little in the way of a coordinated campaign either for or against the measure.

Connecticut is neither the hardest nor the easiest to vote, according to the 2022 Cost of Voting Index as reported in the New York Times on September 20th: In addition to many red states imposing new restrictions on voting, “politically divided states like New Hampshire and Wisconsin and deep-blue ones like Connecticut, have had limits on access to the ballot for years.” Connecticut remains nearer the bottom than the top in ease of voting despite reform efforts by successive Secretaries of the State going back to Miles Rapoport in the 1990s and including Susan Bysiewicz and Denise Merrill. Rapoport, a West Hartford resident who went on to lead Common Cause and DEMOS, is now a voice for universal, compulsory voting akin to jury duty and other gateway reforms at all levels of government as described in “100% Democracy” , his book co-authored with Journalist E.J. Dionne, Jr.

A “Yes” on Question 1 will empower the legislature to adopt early voting and vote by mail options that are already on the books almost everywhere else in the nation.

A Lamont campaign mailer as absentee ballots become available in Connecticut

Absentee applications are available at the Secretary of the State’s Election Page or in New Britain by calling the Town and City Clerk at 860-826-3349. Completed applications should be mailed to Mark H. Bernacki, Town & City Clerk, City of New Britain – Attn: Elections, 27 West Main Street – Room #109
New Britain, CT 06051.

Why Trump’s Party Rallies in New Britain

Mayor Stewart’s former campaign headquarters is one of 20 “RNC Community Centers” in the nation where “Stop The Steal” workshops are occurring

By John McNamara

Ronna McDaniel, the national Republican Party’s Chairperson and Donald Trump sycophant, made her way to New Britain this week to blast not one Democrat but all Democrats as favoring “greed, communism, and crazy. And that’s what they are for.” New Britain may be an unlikely town for the Republican Party to base its operations in blue Connecticut, but early this year Mayor Erin Stewart handed the keys to her West Main Street headquarters over to the Republican National Committee (RNC).

An RNC Center in New Britain is purportedly part of an urban strategy to help George Logan, a former state senator newly relocated to the 5th Congressional District (CD), defeat U.S. Rep Jahana Hayes (D-5) on November 8th. Large winning margins for the Democratic nominee in New Britain have kept the state’s most competitive CD blue ever since Chris Murphy toppled Nancy Johnson (R-6) in 2006. The RNC gambit here is to cut into that Democratic base with outreach to Hispanic and Black precincts in the cities. Like Hayes, Logan is an African American.

On Wednesday (September 14) McDaniel was touting Logan and U.S. Senate Nominee and Trump endorsed Leora Levy of Greenwich at the store front gathering of Republican officials that drew plenty of Connecticut media.

NB Politicus

“The Democrats do not care about our families, they do not care about our kids, they do not care because their priorities in Washington have done anything but help the American people and they do not care, but you know what? We do,” said McDaniel in shrill talking points on behalf of Republican candidates as reported by CT News Junkie.

Not to be seen at the rally, however, were Republican Gubernatorial Nominee Bob Stefanowski and Mayor Stewart, who obligingly cut the ribbon on the RNC Community Center in March but was no where near the place this week.

Stewart would have had a hard time standing next to McDaniel as McDaniel accused Democrats of not caring about our “families” and “kids”. Her administration is using the Biden Administration’s $56 million in local COVID funding as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a law that was enacted without a single Republican vote in the U.S. House. Stewart is announcing initiatives and projects with barely a mention that the money comes from the Democrats’ “Washington priorities” trashed by McDaniel, Logan and Levy on the campaign trail. Now the Inflation Reduction Act is on the way, also without a single Republican vote in Congress, with provisions on energy, climate and local aid that mayors are lining up for in a pandemic recovery.

In state politics, Stewart doesn’t really owe Republicans anything for this election cycle. They have not been kind to the multi-term mayor in a Democratic city who pundits say would have cross-over appeal in a general election. Her cancelled gubernatorial run and primary loss for Lt Governor in 2018 showed the GOP base would never support her socially moderate views and weren’t interested in her “fiscally responsible” budgets that, Democratic critics say, rely heavily on borrowing to kick current obligations down the road.

It’s also possible that Stefanowski, who purchased the Republican nomination for a second time, snubbed Stewart even to be on a short list in picking a Lt. Governor candidate this year. With the Trump effect still in play, the party has moved further to the fringe on a woman’s right to choose, guns and the right to vote. Though Stewart is as partisan a Republican as there is in governing, it is not in her interest inside New Britain to be associated with the Republican Party at least for now. Her plentiful “Democrats for Stewart” lawn signs in municipal years confirm the unwritten rule that the label Republican shall never be used.

New Britain’s RNC Center, one of 20 around the country targeting Black and Hispanic voters, does not appear to be an operations center yet for turning blue to red in New Britain aside from some anecdotal reports of door-to-door activity in the city. The office has been largely shuttered save for a grand opening in March and this week’s rally. Ominously, it has been the site for the GOP’s “election security” training held out of the public eye. A “Learn how to become a poll watcher” workshop drew the ire of Democratic Party Chair Nancy Dinardo and Common Cause CT in July, a sure sign that even in Connecticut the “Stop the Steal” movement and false claims of 2020 vote fraud are being embraced by the CT GOP to the detriment of voter access and participation in 2022.

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