On Monday the Connecticut State House of Representatives passed a measure that will give individuals the opportunity to register to vote and cast a ballot on Election Day.
Proponents of the bill say it will encourage more participation in elections but opponents, including State Representative Sean Williams (R- Oakville), fear such an open process will only welcome voter fraud.
“Our current system allows an abundance of time for people to register to voter prior to Election Day while also allowing adequate time for election officials to verify that the individual meets all of the proper residency requirements. This bill is solving a problem we don’t have and creating a problem we didn’t have before,” said Williams.
Under current law a person can register to vote up to seven days prior to Election Day. In the time between the registration deadline and Election Day election officials make sure the voter information is accurate, the person is a citizen, and a resident of the district in which they are registering.
Under the bill that passed a person can walk into a polling location, register to vote without photo identification and cast a ballot in the same trip. It also allows individuals to register online. The ballot will not be set aside in a provisional space to allow time to verify the voter; instead, the ballot will be cast along with all other ballots.
House Republicans offered up a number of amendments that sought to strike achieve balance in the proposal. One amendment would require photo identification in order to register to vote. Another would have the ballots cast by individuals that register on Election Day set aside until they are verified as a legal voter. Both amendments failed.
“We are jeopardizing the integrity of elections for an extremely small group of people that are legitimate voters, want to vote but miss the deadline. At the very least we should set these ballots aside to allow time to verify the voter,” Williams said. “Under the law that passed, even if we find out someone voted illegally or voted twice, there is no way to remove that illegal ballot. That vote will count. That’s not fair, it’s not right and it will only stand to disenfranchise legitimate voters in Connecticut that feel their vote is being cancelled out by fraud.”
Opponents of the bill also voiced concerns about the logistics of running a same day registration operation. Election Day is a hectic, sometimes chaotic, day for elections officials. Adding this extra wrinkle to the process will increase costs to the state and to municipalities that will have to hire additionally workers.
The bill passed by a vote of 83-59 and is headed to the Senate for consideration.