Connecticut Public Radio

The Senate voted 27-9 Thursday night for final passage of a resolution that opens a multi-year process for voters to decide if the state Constitution should be amended to increase the General Assembly’s discretion over the use of absentee ballots.

At issue is a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the legislature to authorize no-excuse absentee voting. Connecticut’s rules for absentee voting are among the most restrictive in the U.S. and they are enshrined in its constitution.

There are two routes to amending the constitution — one fast and one slow. Approval by 75% of the members of the House and Senate would have placed the question on the next statewide ballot in 2022, but the House fell short of the super-majority when approving the resolution last month.

The other path to a referendum requires successive General Assemblys to approve the referendum by a simple majority. So, if the legislators elected next year approve the same referendum question after they take office in 2023, voters could decide on amending the constitution in 2024.

The House passed it on a vote of 104-44. Nine Republicans joined 95 Democrats in favor.

All 24 Senate Democrats voted in favor, joined by three Republicans: Paul Formica of East Lyme, Tony Hwang of Fairfield and Kevin Witkos of Canton.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.