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Conservatives opposing drive for early voting in Connecticut

Prominent conservatives in Hartford are lobbying state Senate Republicans to abandon legislation making Connecticut the 40th state with at least some early voting, which has boosted turnout in almost every place it's been instituted.

"Once you get away from the idea that there's an Election Day, then you get on a constant slippery slope," former Sen. Joe Markley, the GOP nominee last year for lieutenant governor, told the Hartford Courant.

The state House overwhelmingly approved an early voting measure this year, but it won't pass unless five of 14 Republicans in the Senate join the 22 Democrats to form a two-thirds majority. If that happens, voters statewide would have the final say in a 2020 referendum.

Democrats originally proposed just three days of advance balloting, but in a compromise with the GOP the current measure would only authorize state legislators to set the specifics once the public backs concept.

Prospects for the bill, which failed four years ago, seem to have been improved by Election Day chaos last year in New Haven, where a surge in last-minute registrations led to long lines at the polls.

"When voting becomes a hassle, the democratic process falls by the wayside," said Democratic Sen. Will Haskell, at 22 the youngest member of the legislature. "The right to vote means nothing without the opportunity to vote."

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