The numbers are in and the numbers don’t lie.
Funding for early voting — as it currently stands in the state budget — is set up to short-change Connecticut voters.
No one in Union — Connecticut’s smallest town — would argue they have much in common with Stamford. Union has 651 registered voters and Stamford has 81,194. More voters by a factor of 125. But both municipalities will each get one early voting site.
A new analysis by The Connecticut Project Action Fund shows precisely how many locations are needed to give equitable access. The answer is more sites in bigger population centers.
The 41 biggest cities in Connecticut need 114 polling locations between them, and the remaining 128 towns need just one each. (See graphic below.) But the current state budget is set up to give all 169 municipalities “equal” access: funding for just one polling site per town or city. How is that fair?
It’s no surprise that our 169 towns and cities aren’t equal. Some need more money, some more support, and it’s clear that state lawmakers need to provide more money so that every citizen has equal access to exercise their right to vote.
Here’s another number for you: $7.9 million — this is the investment needed to equitably fund the labor behind early voting. An analysis backed by expertise by election officials across the state found that it will take $3.9 million to hire enough poll workers to staff the 14-day early voting period across Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.
When Connecticut residents voted in 2022 to approve early voting, I don’t believe they did so with the intent of making it just another unfunded mandate.
Our mayors recognize the importance of adequate funding for early voting, as it enables all municipalities to meet the needs of their respective communities and provide ample time for voting. We recently stood alongside mayors from our largest cities, amplifying the call for adequate funding to support the implementation of early voting.
The commitment and collaboration of mayors across the state demonstrate the collective understanding that every community should have the resources necessary to offer accessible and inclusive early voting options.
Coralys Santana is the Policy and Program Associate at The Connecticut Project Action Fund (TCPAF).