Governor Dannel Malloy spoke about the importance of voting at the Darien League of Women Voters’ Fall Kick-off lunch at Darien Country Club.
“Elections and voting are core concerns for the league and it is distressing that several states are currently advocating, and sometimes enforcing increased…voter restrictions,” said league president Gwen Mogenson, who introduced the governon.
In June, Malloy signed House Bill 5024, “an act concerning voting rights,” which will allow eligible citizens to register to vote on Election Day, and allow college students to use their school identification instead of the typical identification required by the state. These privileges will be effective by July 1, 2013. By February 2014, Connecticut residents will be able to vote online.
Darien residents are currently required to present a valid driver’s license or other valid goverment-issued identification like a passport or birth certificate. In-person registration deadline is seven days before elections. Mailed registration forms must be postmarked 14 days before the election.
Malloy’s speech hit the heart of the league’s goals to encourage every eligble person to vote. The governor predicted that either Presidential candidate has a equal chance of winning right now but the issue of voting regulation could have a “dramatic implication” on the outcome.
“This is not about voter fraud, this is about voter denial,” he said. Malloy emphasized that denying some citizens the right to vote is “politics,” while this law passed with approval from both major parties.
There have not been any cases of voter fraud in Connecticut but many U.S. states are enforcing laws that are supposed to curb fraud. He said that Connecticut is one of the only states expanded access to voting in this way. The governor defendeded the new regulations by questioning how other states allow registration. His example was that Texas proposed to allow registration with a gun permit, but would not allow student IDs.
Connecticut’s new law is designed to protect voters who may not have photo identification or a drivers license. He specified that this population included senior citizens, some african american and latino citizens and residents of urban areas.
It is a “poll tax” to force someone who works hourly, espcially for minimum wage, to lose pay for spending a day at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Malloy also referenced a 90-year old who may have voted in the past but no longer has a valid driver’s license.
These people are “caught up in this effort to prevent some people from voting on paper because it prevents fraud–in reality this is the fraud,” he said.
The governor did not speak about the upcoming online voting system, but registrars have about two years to implement it.
“There’s nothing more fundamental than [voting],” Malloy said.
Sandra Ross, a member of the league, came from New Canaan to hear the governor speak. Her belief is that organizations like the League of Women Voters should go to areas with low registration and help them to the polls.
“That way, at least they’ll know that somebody’s there to help them — especially older people who really always voted,” she said.
Ross also said that she was shocked to hear that anyone would deliberately create legislation to deny the right to vote.
First Selecman Jayme Stevenson said that the governor’s message that “all of those who can and want to go out and vote, that they do.” She added that voting laws should not prevent eligible electors from going to the polls, but that “you should in some way shape or form be willing to prove who you are.”