Skip to content

Latest Stories

Top Stories

Connecticut joins most states in relaxing excuse rules for absentee voting

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont

Following Gov. Ned Lamont's executive order, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Missouri are the only states keeping strict limits on mail ballots for the primaries.

Bonnie Biess/Getty Images

Reliably blue Connecticut will allow everyone to vote remotely this summer. Its relaxation of the usual excuse requirements because of the coronavirus leaves only a quartet of red states holding fast to their strict limitations on using an absentee ballot.

Under an executive order Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont signed Wednesday, fear of exposure to the virus will be a valid reason for voting remotely.

Lawsuits are hoping to force the same result in Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Missouri, where Republicans run the state governments and are fighting calls to make remote voting universally available until the pandemic ends. Eleven states before Connecticut, five of them under GOP control, had come up with legislative or administrative workarounds to that effect.

All those states have concluded their governing priority is minimizing the risks to both voters and election workers if they are compelled to spend long stretches in close proximity at polling places — a situation that prompted more than 50 people to become sick after waiting in line to vote in Wisconsin's primaries last month.

Lamont's easement applies only to the Aug. 11 primaries, which will feature a Democratic presidential contest postponed from April and the regularly scheduled nominating contests for Congress and the Legislature. And his order says the old rules will apply if a "federally approved and widely available vaccine for Covid-19" is somehow available by then — which almost no one thinks is possible.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

State law normally allows only people who are sick, disabled, out of town or face a religious conflict to vote absentee. And that will be the case again for the general election unless the Legislature returns in time to alter the law before Nov. 3.

Lamont had resisted calls to use his powers for months, relenting when it became clear lawmakers would not come back to Hartford before late summer.

"We must guarantee access to the ballot," he said in announcing his order. "I do not take this decision lightly, and it is with the public health and welfare of residents in mind."

Three weeks ago, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced she would send absentee ballot applications for the primary to every registered voter — an effort that was largely pointless until Lamont stepped in. The usual rules have meant fewer than 10 percent of votes statewide have been cast absentee.

Mail has been the only option for those ballots until now. At a time when postal service has slowed considerably, the state will use some of its share of the $400 million in federal election grants to provide secure drop boxes to each of its municipalities.

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano said the equipment would be an invitation to fraud, asserting without evidence that they "present unique security issues related to stuffing ballot boxes."

Read More

Trump and Biden at the debate

Our political dysfunction was on display during the debate in the simple fact of the binary choice on stage: Trump vs Biden.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The debate, the political duopoly and the future of American democracy

Johnson is the executive director of the Election Reformers Network, a national nonpartisan organization advancing common-sense reforms to protect elections from polarization.

The talk is all about President Joe Biden’s recent debate performance, whether he’ll be replaced at the top of the ticket and what it all means for the very concerning likelihood of another Trump presidency. These are critical questions.

But Donald Trump is also a symptom of broader dysfunction in our political system. That dysfunction has two key sources: a toxic polarization that elevates cultural warfare over policymaking, and a set of rules that protects the major parties from competition and allows them too much control over elections. These rules entrench the major-party duopoly and preclude the emergence of any alternative political leadership, giving polarization in this country its increasingly existential character.

Keep ReadingShow less
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Voters should be able to take the measure of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., since he is poised to win millions of votes in November.

Andrew Lichtenstein/Getty Images

Kennedy should have been in the debate – and states need ranked voting

Richie is co-founder and senior advisor of FairVote.

CNN’s presidential debate coincided with a fresh batch of swing-state snapshots that make one thing perfectly clear: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. may be a longshot to be our 47th president and faces his own controversies, yet the 10 percent he’s often achieving in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and other battlegrounds could easily tilt the presidency.

Why did CNN keep him out with impossible-to-meet requirements? The performances, mistruths and misstatements by Joe Biden and Donald Trump would have shocked Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, who managed to debate seven times without any discussion of golf handicaps — a subject better fit for a “Grumpy Old Men” outtake than one of the year’s two scheduled debates.

Keep ReadingShow less
I Voted stickers

Veterans for All Voters advocates for election reforms that enable more people to participate in primaries.

BackyardProduction/Getty Images

Veterans are working to make democracy more representative

Proctor, a Navy veteran, is a volunteer with Veterans for All Voters.

Imagine this: A general election with no negative campaigning and four or five viable candidates (regardless of party affiliation) competing based on their own personal ideas and actions — not simply their level of obstruction or how well they demonize their opponents. In this reformed election process, the candidate with the best ideas and the broadest appeal will win. The result: The exhausted majority will finally be well-represented again.

Keep ReadingShow less
Person voting at a dropbox in Washington, D.C.

A bill moving through Congress would only allow U.S. citizens to vote in D.C. municipal eletions.

Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The battle over noncitizen voting in America's capital

Rogers is the “data wrangler” at BillTrack50. He previously worked on policy in several government departments.

Should you be allowed to vote if you aren’t an American citizen? Or according to the adage ‘No taxation without representation’, if you pay taxes should you get to choose the representatives who help spend those tax dollars? Those questions are at the heart of the debate over a bill to restrict voting to U.S. citizens.

Keep ReadingShow less
people walking through a polling place

Election workers monitor a little-used polling place in Sandy Springs, Ga., during the state's 2022 primary.

Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

What November election? Half of the U.S. House is already decided.

Troiano is the executive director ofUnite America, a philanthropic venture fund that invests in nonpartisan election reform to foster a more representative and functional government. He’s also the author of “The Primary Solution.”

Last month, Americans were treated to an embarrassing spectacle: Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) tradingpersonal insults related to “fake eyelashes” and a “bleach blonde bad built butch body” during a late-night committee hearing. Some likened it to Bravo’s “Real Housewives” reality TV series, and wondered how it was possible that elected officials could act that way and still be elected to Congress by the voters.

The truth is, the vast majority of us don’t actually elect our House members — not even close. Less than 10 percent of voters in Crockett’s district participated in her 2024 Democratic primary, which all but guaranteed her re-election in the safe blue district. Greene ran unopposed in her GOP primary — meaning she was re-elected without needing to win a single vote. The nearly 600,000 voters in her overwhelmingly red district were denied any meaningful choice. Both contests were decided well before most voters participate in the general election.

Keep ReadingShow less