Editorial: Update on Expanded Mail-In for CT and Proposals in D.C.

I am normally opposed to expanded mail-in voting in CT because of proven continuous and recent votING fraud by campaigns and insiders in CT (Which is distinct from votER fraud, which for all practical purposes does not exist).

Yet in this virus situation, I am in favor of no-excuse mail-in voting.

Recent examples of votING fraud in Connecticut: <Stamford> <Hartford> <Bridgeport>
Some other examples <East Longmeadow, MA> <Dade County, FL>

The Secretary of the State has asked Gov Lamont to sign an executive order to permit it.  However, reading between the lines: Since the Gov cannot by executive order override the Constitution, the fix proposed by Sec Merrill would likely be interpreted as an attempt to do that and an expected court challenge would likely succeed.

If they do come up with a fix that passes Constitutional muster about the only reasonable additional change could be relaxing the 48 hour deadline for the initial counting of votes. That poses risks too because recanvasses must be completed by day 8 and the Constitution requires that the results be certified by day 10.

If that is all that is done then local officials would have to plan and execute well a possible 10-15 fold increase in absentee ballots with a similar expansion in what all town clerks must  do prior to the election and registrars before and after. Counting ballots and meeting integrity requirements also involves special (slower) procedures in the age of COVID-19. Of course, we can give up on integrity requirements like two people checking each envelope inside and outside, and two people examining each ballot (I would not recommend against skipping integrity).

In D.C. there have been independent and stimulus bill sections mandating mail-in and early voting in all states. These would be devastating requirements for CT to implement and execute in such a short time-frame by August or November. All but impossible in a normal year, but much tougher in the age of COVID-19. Mail processing vendors, all but required by such proposed laws, are already saying they are all but booked  for November and have no spare capacity. Meeting those same requirements would also require massive changes, equipment and people in Connecticut, with little time for testing, planning and training. In person early voting would also be a similar huge change. All costly and risky to implement in a hurry.

Everyone points to CA, OR, and CO as shining examples. Not necessarily true. CA comes close to meeting all the requirements in these bills. To meet them CA allows 30 days for counting absentees. In the recent primary (much smaller than the general election) they extended the counting an additional 21 days. If that happens in Nov, its likely the CA electors would not be counted in the Presidential election. Hopefully they will do better.

Bottom line: If the state can legally do anything it would be best to leave all current systems in place and hire lots of people to do absentee processing and hope each of the 169 clerks and 338 registrars are up to the jobs of hiring, planning, training, organizing and executing (questionable at best given the years of experience with and never cured, disenfranchising Election Day Registration lines in some towns).

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