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Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order this week allowing all registered voters to vote absentee in the state’s Aug. 11 primary elections.
“Nobody should need to make a decision between their health and their right to vote,” Lamont said in a statement. “Our state has taken every responsible step to this point to ensure that our residents are safe, and the next step we must take is to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 when Connecticut residents cast their ballots.”
Lamont added: “We must guarantee access to the ballot, and this is a way to do that during these extraordinary circumstances. I do not take this decision lightly, and it is with the public health and welfare of residents in mind.”
Current Connecticut law authorizes the use of an absentee ballot for several reasons, including a voter’s active service in the Armed Forces; absence from town during all hours of voting; an illness; religious beliefs; duties as an election official; and physical disability.
Lamont said that as COVID-19 continues to spread through the case, it is “critical” that the state make “reasonable adjustments that reflect the current state of emergency while ensuring that the democratic process continues safely and securely.”
Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill announced this week that she intends to mail every registered voter in the state an application that they will be required to fill out and return in order to obtain their absentee ballot. The applications, which will be sent by U.S. Postal Service, will include a postage-paid return envelope. Once the applications are processed, all voters who requested absentee ballots will receive them in the mail, also with a postage-paid return envelope included.
Merrill said that each town in Connecticut would have a secure dropbox in a prominent location to allow voters to submit their absentee ballots in person without close personal contact.
Connecticut’s 2020 presidential primary election was initially scheduled for April 28, but due to the coronavirus crisis, the governor signed an executive order to reschedule it—first to June 2, and then to August 11—the same date the state was scheduled to hold other primary races for federal, state and local offices.
As of Thursday, Connecticut reported more than 38,400 positive cases of the novel coronavirus and more than 3,470 deaths.