Make A Reasonable Change To The Law
To the Editor:
I feel that the absentee ballot application form should be changed to allow anyone voting in next November’s election to get an absentee ballot because of COVID-19. As the law stands now, you can get an absentee ballot if you are sick, but you cannot get one to try to avoid going into a polling place where numbers of people will congregate during the coronavirus pandemic. It is great that there are fewer new cases, fewer hospitalizations, and fewer deaths each day in the state. But we do not know what is going to happen when people are back at work, in school, and shopping-dining-partying-as-usual next fall. We also do not know if other viral infections could trigger a resurgence of the coronavirus. The pandemic is not over in the rest of the country or the rest of the world.
It seems like changing the application should be straightforward. But there are two issues. Some candidates dislike allowing anyone who wants to vote by absentee ballot because they fear their chances of getting elected might be harmed. And they have one legal issue to work with. The Constitution of the State of Connecticut specifies a few reasons a voter can get an absentee ballot and one of them is if the voter is unable to appear at the polling place because of sickness. The constitution authorizes the state legislature to write an absentee ballot law, but it does not compel them to exercise that authority to the fullest, or even at all. The statute that the legislature wrote some years ago currently reads that anyone can get an absentee ballot because of his or her illness (along with five other reasons). I contend that the law should be changed for next November and I believe that the constitution can be interpreted in a way to allow any voter to be able to get an absentee ballot because of a highly infectious disease.
I feel that such a change could withstand a court challenge because the constitution (of the state) can be reasonably interpreted to allow the legislature to authorize voting by absentee ballot due to a sickness like COVID-19. And there is another issue. Someone with COVID-19 may be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic. So a voter could have an infection that has been proven to be potentially dangerous and not feel that he or she has a legal right to vote by absentee ballot, even though he or she is actually sick. The law, as it currently stands, can lead to an absurd situation where it does not meet the standard it itself purports to meet while compelling a sick voter to vote in person.
The Supreme Court of the State of Connecticut is hearing three cases on these issues already and I hope that these changes to the law will be seen as reasonable and within the scope of the constitution.
275 Silver Hill Road, Easton July 6, 2020