Thursday, October 30, 2014

Connecticut Early Voting Amendment, Question 1

Eli,

For reasons I don't understand, this ballot measure seems to divide along party lines.

The official question is:
Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to remove restrictions concerning absentee ballots and to permit a person to vote without appearing at a polling place on the day of an election?
The "Further explanation" of the ballot summary states:
The state constitution contains provisions regarding the administration of elections in Connecticut, including requiring voters to cast their ballots at their polling place on election day, unless they qualify to vote by absentee ballot. Under the constitution, voters may qualify for an absentee ballot if they will be out of town, are sick or have a physical disability, or the tenets of their religion prohibit secular activity on election day. Because these restrictions are in the constitution, the General Assembly does not currently have the authority to pass a law that changes them. The constitutional amendment would eliminate these restrictions.
Voteyesct.org seems to summarize the argument as I've heard it stated:

This year, there will be a Constitutional Amendment (Question 1) on the Connecticut ballot. The purpose is to improve voter turnout by removing impediments that often discourage and deter eligible voters from voting.

Voting YES can help families, commuters, employees, employers, seniors and students – anyone eligible to vote. 

As Americans, voting is among our most fundamental rights. Especially in Connecticut – the Constitution State – eliminating obstacles so that residents can exercise that right is why Question 1 is so important.
The purpose is to improve voter turnout and removing the current restrictions will increase voter turnout. There should be a lot of data on this, and my simple google search of the term: "early voting voter turnout," showed the first entry a 2007 study by Gronke et al finding:

In conclusion, we remain skeptical of those who advocate in favor of early voting reforms primarily on the basis of increased turnout. Both these results, and prior work in political science, simply do not support these claims. There may be good reasons to adopt early voting—more accurate ballot counting, reduced administrative costs and headaches, and increased voter satisfaction—but boosting turnout is not one of them.
The second hit on the search returned a 2013 Pew study claiming:
Reformers hate it when this happens:  The country’s most widely adopted reform designed to make voting easier may lower the chances that an individual voter will go to the polls, according to a new study to be published in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.
 There may be many good reasons to vote for this amendment, but increasing voter turnout isn't one of them.

Bill


2 comments:

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