Connecticut declined early voting, now lines are a concern

(AP file)
(AP file)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — With voter registration at all time highs in the state, concerns about lines on election day are growing, but Connecticut voters turned down one possible solution two years ago.

With one day before deadline, millions of people are registered to vote in Connecticut.

“It’s incredible,” said Secretary of State Denise Merrill. “We’ve seen a surge in registration like I’ve never seen before. It ‘s up around 2.1 million. Last time was that high in 2008. And we’ve already exceeded that.”

But unlike most states, Connecticut has no early voting options. The state constitution stipulates that voting can only take place on one day. An amendment was voted down in 2014 by Connecticut voters that would’ve changed the constitution and allowed early voting. The defeat was a setback for Secretary of State Denise Merrill, who called early voting a convenience for voters. She said it took her three years to get the issue on the ballot.

“I still think on balance it’s a good thing that it gives people more options to vote,” Merrill said. “Places that have mail-in or early voting really get higher turnouts.”

Absentee ballots are allowed, but only with certain stipulations, such as if you will not be in your town or city on election day. It’s not enough to ease concerns about the numbers expected to show up on November 8. The state feels local election officials will be prepared for the crowds.

“They’ve all prepared in advance. They have extra people on duty so hopefully we can avoid really long lines,” Merrill said. “I am encouraging everyone to get there early. Don’t go out last minute if yo can possibly avoid it.”

There’s particular concern about crowds in cities with large numbers of college students like New Haven or Fairfield. The best bet, if you can help it, get there as early as possible.

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