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Democracy in CTLN: Voter Access Across New England 

Hispanic and Latino Americans are the fastest growing racial and ethnic group in the U.S. electorate since the last midterm elections, with about 34.5 million Hispanics and Latinos eligible to vote in 2022.

While the turnout for Hispanic and Latino voters nationwide has increased over the past decade, they still fall behind other groups. Hispanic and Latino voters face a variety of barriers, but efforts to limit voter access are increasing across the country.

Democracy doesn’t properly work when people and communities are prevented from participating within local, state, or national elections. 

Expanding voting access across the country ensures that communities are accurately and justly represented by its elected officials. 

Advocating for and increasing voting access includes expanding early voting, online voter registration, and same-day voter registration. 

In Connecticut, there is currently no form of early voting and fairly restrictive absentee voting laws, according to Staff Attorney Aida Carini of the CT Secretary of State Office. 

However, Question 1 on the ballot this fall would expand voting access across the state, allowing early voting as soon as 2024. 

“This allows us to begin establishing some framework for early voting and opening the availability of absentee voting to many of those that would otherwise be unable to…vote,” said Carini during Vote Local Day. 

Carini discussed the ballot question in a conversation featuring NH Secretary of State David Scanlan and MO Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon; view the full discussion here

In 2020, non-traditional voting — all types of non-election day voting including vote-by-mail and absentee voting — accounted for about 69.4% of the vote, according to Deliver My Vote Executive Director Amanda Pohl.

“Vote-by-mail programs and any early-voting program does provide greater access to the ballot and that supports the basic foundation of our democracy,” Pohl said.

“We had the highest turnout election in modern history [in 2020],” she added. “We had more people of color [and] young people voting…and more people accessing the ballot who otherwise,” would have not be able to.

Nonprofit leaders at the Vote Local Day discussion on Vote By Mail & Voter ID’s emphasized that the rate of vote-by-mail has increased over the years. They also spoke on how early-voting, vote-by-mail, and absentee ballots have led to greater and more diverse participation throughout the country. 

“Those accessible programs do increase access to voting for disenfranchised communities, especially, and we have some research that we released in February that also shows that young voters and especially voters of color are more likely to vote if they’re given vote-by-mail options,” Pohl said in the discussion.

Although data has found that expanding voter access results in higher participation rates among communities, officials across the U.S. are working to backtrack some of these laws.

“As soon as those things happened, we immediately saw states starting to clamp down on voting methodologies…We’re also seeing backlash from legislatures that don’t want to see that increased participation,” Pohl said. 

Since May, almost 400 restrictive bills have been introduced in legislatures across the nation. Some restrictions deny assistance to voters with limited English proficiency, according to the Brennan Center

“Over the past 18 months, there has been a wave of anti-voter bills introduced and passed across the country, many of them designed to undermine the growing political power of Latinos and other communities of color,” wrote the Brennan Center. 

Research by the Brennan Center would support the idea that the ongoing increase in voter restrictions are strongly motivated/influenced by “racial backlash”.

“Racial Backlash” is a theory that “describes how white Americans respond to a perceived erosion of power and status by undermining the political opportunities of minorities,” according to the Brennan Center.  


Important Reminders 

Registration: 

CT residents can register by mail, in person, or online. 

Learn about the different registration types at: https://portal.ct.gov/SOTS/Election-Services/Voter-Information/Voter-Registration-Information 

Not sure if you’re registered? Check your registration status at:

https://portaldir.ct.gov/sots/LookUp.aspx

Mail voter registration must be postmarked by Nov. 1 to be eligible. English and Spanish registration forms are available here: https://portal.ct.gov/SOTS/Election-Services/Register-to-Vote/Voter-Registration-Application-English-and-Spanish 

Online registration ends Nov. 1 by 11:59 p.m. EST. Register here: 

https://voterregistration.ct.gov/OLVR/welcome.do

Learn about Election Day registration and if you’re eligible: 

https://portal.ct.gov/SOTS/Election-Services/Election-Day-Registration/Election-Day-Registration

Early Voting 

Early voting is not currently available in Connecticut; however, that may soon change due to Question 1 on this year’s ballot. 

Scroll to “In Connecticut” below for more information. 

Submitting an Absentee Ballot: 

CT has strict laws on who can cast an absentee ballot; these restrictions were expanded in 2020 due to the COVID-19 but remain limited. 

According to the CT’s official state website, those eligible include people who cannot vote in person because of:

  • Active service in the military
  • Absence from the town in which you are eligible to vote
  • Sickness
  • Religious tenets that for it secular activity on the day of the election
  • Duties as an election official at a polling place
  • Physical disability

CT residents can request an absentee ballot online by Nov. 7 at: https://oabr-sots.ct.gov/OABR/absenteeBallotReqPortalHome.do 

Mail request forms for absentee ballots and emergency ballots within 6 days of an election are available in English and Spanish at: https://portal.ct.gov/SOTS/Election-Services/Voter-Information/Absentee-Voting 

Absentee or Mail-In Ballots must be received by mail or in-person by Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. EST. 

Learn about the state’s absentee ballot process here: https://portal.ct.gov/SOTS/Election-Services/Voter-Information/Absentee-Ballot-Process 

Voting Day:

On Nov. 8, CT Polls are open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (any resident standing in line at the polls at 8 p.m. is able to vote.) 

Locate a polling place near you at: 

https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/


Additional Resources 

General

Be The Ones English Local Voter Guide 

Be The Ones Spanish Local Voter Guide 

Vote.org Poll Locator – https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/ 

Connecticut 

Election Guide for Meriden Residents – https://www.myrecordjournal.com/News/Meriden/Meriden-News/Voter_FAQ.html

CT Network Explainer Videos – https://ct-n.com/civics/Your%20Vote%20-%20Where%20Democracy%20Begins.asp


Publisher’s note: CT Latino News under the Latino News Network (LNN), has put together this informational guide with the help of our partner Be The Ones, to assist voters make informed decisions not only at the polls, but in their engagement with democracy going forward.

Collaboration and inclusion are best practices LNN adopted from the Democracy SOS fellowship. LNN is one of 20 U.S.-based newsrooms elected to participate in the Hearken and the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) fellowship, committed to building understanding, trust, and engagement.

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