Our current election system is not designed to effectively manage the COVID-19 pandemic. We must learn this lesson from the shameful election in Wisconsin that forced voters to risk their health and safety to exercise their right to vote.
We cannot allow this to happen in Connecticut, but we are unprepared to stop it unless measures are taken immediately. In Connecticut, our absentee ballot applications are flawed in the face of this health crisis. Their use is restricted to those who are ill or housebound, to military personnel, and to voters who are out of state at the time of an election. They do not allow a vote-by-mail option for those who are at risk for infection during the voting process.
They are a deterrent to voting under the circumstances and demand revision. Voters confronted with the choice of exposure or the option to remain at home may simply opt to not vote. Low voter turnout is a threat to our democracy.
We need decisive leadership now to protect our right to vote and to ensure free and fair elections. Gov. Ned Lamont must take action now by issuing an Executive Order to allow expansion of voting rights. He must allow any voter to complete an absentee ballot application without excuse allowing a vote-by-mail option. Further, votes must be counted based on the postmark date not the receipt date.
Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures. The time is now to avoid negative consequences to our democracy and the election process.
Claire M. Walsh lives in Deep River.