Haskell: Absentee voting should be simple and easy

Will Haskell

Will Haskell

Staff / Hearst Connecticut Media

Generations of Americans have fought for our right to vote. But too often, the right to vote is rendered meaningless without the ability to vote. That's why I'm fighting to modernize our absentee ballot laws and ensure that every citizen has an opportunity to participate in elections.

When I was in college, I sat down with a friend to apply for an absentee ballot from our respective states. She was from Virginia, and in a matter of minutes she had completed an online application to vote absentee. Unfortunately, the process for a Connecticut voter was far more complicated. I had to fill out a paper absentee ballot application, buy envelopes and stamps (not something you find in most dorm rooms these days) and mail it to Town Hall.

That's why I proposed a bill last year that would allow Connecticut voters to apply for an absentee ballot through the Secretary of State's secure online portal. Paper ballots would still be sent through the mail, as I believe this is an important factor in maintaining the integrity of elections. However, the process could be simpler for students, seniors and anyone else who isn't able to vote in person on Election Day.

Voters in Connecticut already have the ability to register to vote online -- why shouldn't we be able to apply for an absentee ballot on that same website? Although my bill passed the Government Administration and Elections Committee with the support of the Secretary of State, we failed to push it across the finish line last year. But I'm not giving up and will continue fighting to streamline this archaic process.

I'll put forward the same legislation this year, because I believe democracy functions best when citizens can seamlessly engage with the democratic process. As with all reforms to our elections, this legislation isn't about who earns your vote -- it's about making sure you have a chance to vote. Increased access to voting leads to higher voter turnout, which is turn leads to a more informed and well-represented electorate. I'm hopeful that we can work across the aisle to pass this common-sense legislation.