“I commend legislative leaders and the Governor for doing the right thing to help ensure that our military personnel stationed overseas can have their ballots counted in our elections,” said Secretary Bysiewicz, Connecticut’s chief Elections Official. “These brave men and women put their lives on the line everyday to protect us, and until now unacceptable delays have prevented many of them from exercising their Constitutional right to vote. I urge any member of the military or their family in Connecticut to contact your town clerk and find out how you can download your application for an absentee ballot online, or get the ballot sent to you by fax. It is critical to make sure every voice is heard in the 2010 elections, especially those who are carrying out our national security policies.”
Prior to this change in the law, Connecticut statutes required town clerks to issue absentee ballots to a voter either in person or by mail only. The process by which a member of the military overseas votes took up to 57 days on average for the state of Connecticut.
Secretary Bysiewicz estimates that allowing the electronic transfer of absentee ballots and applications will reduce that processing time by at least 24 days. Under the new law, a military member serving overseas could receive an absentee ballot electronically through fax or email within seconds, even in forward bases where mail service is sporadic, but internet access and phone lines are available. The ballots can be filled out and sent back by mail only. Applications for absentee ballots can also be downloaded off the web and sent back electronically.
The new law also protects against voter fraud by requiring each overseas military voter to send in a signed affidavit enclosed with his or her ballot. Town clerks in Connecticut are required to make blank absentee ballots available for members of the military absent due to a military contingency at least 90 days prior to Election Day. The new law also requires town clerks to make blank absentee ballots available to any member of the military on active duty at least 45 days prior to the General election, which will mean by September 18, 2010 for the current election year.
The military voting provisions were contained in S.B. 501, “AN ACT CONCERNING THE REAL ESTATE CONVEYANCE TAX, THE CONVEYANCE OF CERTAIN PARCELS OF STATE LAND, ADJUSTMENTS TO CERTAIN PROGRAMS IMPLEMENTED THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES, A REPORT ON TAX CREDITS, JUVENILE JUSTICE, ABSENTEE VOTING BY MEMBERS OF THE MILITARY, REVISIONS TO VARIOUS TASK FORCES, COMMISSIONS AND COUNCILS, AND AMENDMENTS AND MINOR AND TECHNICAL CHANGES TO CERTAIN SPECIAL AND PUBLIC ACTS OF THE 2010 REGULAR SESSION,” which was approved this week in a Special Session of the General Assembly.
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