There have been 22 Executive Orders issued in Connecticut by the Gov. Ned Lamont over the past three weeks.
One 7-I, suspends the public’s right to vote on regional school budgets as well as your local municipal budget. You will not be voting on your local budget for the next year, it will be moved through by the Board of Finance and then put in place. End of story – no vote. The citizens lost the right to vote on how they will be taxed. I found out by listening to our local school superintendent explain how they have to proceed with their budgeting process given the EO 7-I change.
With all of this going on I reached out to our two elected state officials. Sen. Norm Needleman and Rep. Christine Palm, one said simply “he can do that”, and Palm didn’t respond. I went to both official websites of these officials and there is not a single word about what is going on with these specific and extensive Executive Orders and how they pertain to their constituents. It is both their jobs, like all the elected officials, to keep us informed. To provide real information directly to your constituents about what is going on as these are now laws we must adhere to. If you want people to take this seriously then treat them like adults and provide serious information and provide it directly to them. Then fight for my right to vote.
From what I understand, this particular Executive Order 7-I, was put forth under a “health and safety” measure to avoid gatherings of over x amount of people. That would certainly fit as a reason to avoid having hundreds of people moving through Town Hall to vote at this time of social distancing.
But the budgeting issue being rushed through is to get the education budget incorporated into the town budgets and get the bill/notices to the taxpayers and banks to timely pay our bills and let the banks know what to incorporate into your escrow. Having to have budgets in by a certain date is not a health and safety issue. It is a financial/administrative issue. Just suspend that need to have it in by the certain date. I have nothing against banks, but rather than suspend my voting rights, they can wait and figure out the math after the budgets are voted in.
The voting can wait. New York extend theirs, and the state can look to see what they can come up with as alternative polling if necessary. Putting the need to rush the budgets through because of funding or some other reason is not a health and safety matter. It is a matter of administrative convenience.
My family and I, like almost everyone I know, are taking this health risk very seriously. I do not think it is a made up thing or overblown, but I also take my rights very seriously and to suspend the right to vote with the simple executive order, with nothing mentioned as a possible workaround or just extending the vote out a month or two, is not acceptable. The right to vote during other dark times in our country’s history was not extinguished and there is no reason to do it now.
Imagine if we go into November with this in effect and no one has figured out a workaround? On any given Saturday our local Stop and Shop moves hundreds of people safely through their facility in a matter of hours, our government can certainly figure out a voting workaround and not suspend the citizens’ voting rights.
James Carey lives in Essex.