Editor, The Cheshire Herald:
We are all privileged to live in this glorious Republic, or representative democracy. The fundamental mechanism for determining our leaders and our policies, both national and local, is the ballot. This was recognized by the Founders and, in the ensuing centuries, the franchise has been broadened by the 15th, 19th and 26th Amendments.
This past November, the people of the United States held an election that was the largest and dubbed the “most secure in American history” by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and others. The results were certified by Secretaries of State and Governors (of both parties) in all 50 states. Numerous challenges to the results were rejected by courts at every level up to and including a unanimous Supreme Court.
These results were produced in the midst of our worst pandemic in a century, thanks to the flexibility and creativity of governors and legislatures of both parties across the country, including here in Connecticut. We learned from this extreme example that Americans prize their franchise and will make extraordinary efforts to cast their ballots.
In the 2020 CT General Election, 650,000 of our citizens voted securely by absentee ballot, which allowed them to vote early on their own schedules. Connecticut's record-breaking 80% voter turnout in the 2020 General Election would not have been possible during the pandemic without the expanded absentee ballot voting.
Furthermore, according to a poll conducted by the group Secure Democracy, 73% of Connecticut voters support giving all voters the option to vote by absentee ballot without needing an excuse. Many states offer “no excuse” mail-in voting, including six states with all-mail elections. In addition, 43 states offer in-person early voting options. Connecticut thus lags behind most of the nation. Many voters need to work multiple jobs just to feed and house their families and may not be able to afford to lose a day’s pay in order to vote. Nearly 80% of Connecticut voters support early voting. These issues are the subject of two proposed amendments to the Connecticut Constitution.
I am aware that some do not share my view and have raised objections that these measures might lead to “voter fraud.” According to the exhaustive study conducted by the Heritage Foundation, out of the billions of ballots cast in all elections since 1979:
•There have been a total of 971 proven cases of voter fraud of all types and 820 convictions.
•Of these, only 213 involved absentee ballots, with 148 convictions, and only five in 2020.
Given these minuscule percentages, compared with the tens of thousands who are disenfranchised by overly burdensome and often discriminatory regulations, I urge our representatives to put partisanship aside and take this step toward unifying our country by supporting the extension of this most basic and fundamental right.