A federal lawsuit was filed Thursday to make mail-in voting for the November election available to all eligible Connecticut voters during the coronavirus pandemic.
An executive order signed by Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said any eligible Democratic or Republican voter will be allowed to use an absentee ballot to vote in the Aug. 11 primary. Applications are being sent this week to 2 million eligible voters. However, because the governor's public health emergency order expires Sept. 9, he cannot mandate the ballots be made available for the Nov. 3 general election.
Lamont and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, both Democrats, have urged the General Assembly to pass legislation in an upcoming special session to allow all voters to use absentee ballots in the general election. No date has been set.
"No Connecticut voter should be forced to choose between protecting their health and casting their ballot," Merrill said in a written statement. "As I have said for months, the legislature should come in to special session immediately to allow Connecticut voters to cast their votes by absentee ballot in November."
Thursday's lawsuit marks the third legal action filed in recent weeks regarding mail-in voting in Connecticut. The first two were filed in state courts by critics of the concept including four Republican congressional candidates on the primary ballot who are part of a group called Fight Voter Fraud Inc. They filed a lawsuit Wednesday with the Connecticut Supreme Court, asking the court to order Merrill to stop sending out the voter applications "that misinform the true legal requirements for voting by absentee ballot."
They argue Merrill's office is encouraging everyone to vote by absentee and therefore risking the integrity of the primary.
This new federal lawsuit was filed by The League of Women Voters of Connecticut, the Connecticut State Conference of the NAACP, and an individual resident who needs an alternative to voting in-person because her age places her at higher health risks due to COVID-19.
Scot X. Esdaile, president of the Connecticut NAACP State Conference, said the Black community has been hit the hardest in the state by COVID-19 and "will be hit the hardest politically in the state of Connecticut if there are not protections put in place for voting rights in November."
As of Thursday, there have been 4,326 COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut, an increase of two since Wednesday. The number of reported positive cases increased by 74, to 46,646, while hospitalizations grew by one patient, to 101.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or lead to death.
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