More than 123,000 Connecticut voters had cast absentee ballots by Monday morning, more than in any year since 2016, with the exception of the pandemic-year presidential election in 2020.
Of them, about 54% came from registered Democrats, according to the Secretary of the State’s office.
“The actions of the legislature in 2021 by making absentee ballot less restrictive combined with people getting in the habit of voting by absentee in 2020, you can see the results. People want to vote by absentee,” said Scott Bates, the Connecticut Deputy Secretary of the State.
The number of registered voters also increased about 3.3% from the 2018 midterm elections, especially among unaffiliated voters. The 924,214 unaffiliated voters this year is a 5.3% increase from 2018. Democrats now total 813,384 active voters, an increase of about 2.6%. Republicans account for 463,401 active voters, an increase of only 233, or 0.05%, from 2018.
The total number of active voters dipped about 3.1% from 2020.
The 123,214 absentee ballots returned by Monday morning account for just over 5% of the Connecticut electorate and over 75% of absentee ballots requested and sent to voters. Of those absentee ballots filled out and returned, more than 66,000 came from registered Democrats; about 24,000 from Republicans and about 31,500 from unaffiliated voters.
The number of absentee ballots returned in recent years has ranged from a low of 24,000 in 2017 to almost 130,000 in 2016. The 2020 presidential election saw more than 665,000 absentee ballots cast in Connecticut, a record. Other states also saw big numbers of absentee ballots in 2020, largely due to loosened absentee ballot restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ten towns still haven't reported absentee ballots to the secretary of the state.
"Our projections are that, very likely, you're going to see 150,000 to 160,000 absentee ballots in this election," said Bates.
In April, Gov. Ned Lamont signed legislation that allows out-of-town commuters and caretakers of ill and disabled individuals to apply for an absentee ballot.
Bates thinks there's more work to be done.
"I’d say long-term there should be ongoing state support for local election administration, because right now, there really isn't any. We’ve passed on federal money that's come, but we can’t always guarantee that that’s coming. I think that’s going to be an issue for the next secretary of the state and legislature to think about," said Bates.
The rest of the electorate will be able to vote Tuesday at their local polling stations, where early voting will also be on the ballot.
Among them will be up to 925,000 unaffiliated voters.
Across the state, most towns are solidly unaffiliated. Only five towns have a majority of active Republican voters. Democrats can claim 28 towns, including the four most populous cities of Bridgeport, Stamford, New Haven and Hartford.