Ask The Registrar

2021 Legislative changes in elections, voting could affect Stratford this fall

By Registrar James Simon

The Connecticut Secretary of State’s office has just released a summary of 2021 legislative changes to the voting and elections process, some of which could have an impact on Stratford’s municipal elections in November. Here are some highlights:

  1. Expanded Reason For Absentee Ballots.

In 2021, voters can again choose COVID-19 sickness as a reason to request an absentee ballot. COVID will be listed as one of the approved reasons on an AB application, along with traditional reasons such as being out of town and being otherwise too ill to vote in person. In the 2020 election, the COVID provision helped prompt record use of ABs.

It was not immediately clear whether an application for an AB in 2021 will be sent to every voter, as was done by the Secretary of State in 2020.

  1. Early Count Of Abs

Like 2020, towns can count a portion of the Absentee Ballots before Election Day, as long as they adhere to a rigid set of rules issued by the state (such as using a centralized location and notifying interested parties 10 days in advance). They also can count a final wave of ABs as late as 48 hours after polls close.

In Stratford, both registrars have a strong preference to wrap up all counting on the Tuesday election night.

  1. Drop Boxes Are Back.

The white ballot Drop Boxes, where voters could deposit their Absentee Ballots until 8p.m. on Election Day, are made permanent. Stratford had two of the boxes, located alongside Town Hall, in the 2020 election and they were heavily used.

  1. Time Off

Employers must give an employee up to two hours of unpaid time off to vote for state elections if the person requests it in advance.

  1. The Fine Print

Here is where you can see a full description of the dozens of Connecticut changes: https://portal.ct.gov/…/2021-Legislative-Summary-Final.pdf

Stratford Registrar James Simon worked as a political reporter for 10 years with The Associated Press, then taught courses like political journalism for 18 years as a professor and dean at Fairfield University. He was elected as the Democratic Registrar of Voters in Stratford in November 2020.

More questions? Please send them to registrar Jim Simon; jsimon@townofstratford.com. This is not an official publication of the Town of Stratford. (Vol. 1, No. 8; August 2021)

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