On April 7, citizens of Wisconsin were forced to make an impossible choice. State officials required their constituents to choose between their own health and their ability to participate in the democratic process. After the Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected an executive order from Governor Tony Evers to delay the state election and primary until June, chaos erupted at the polls and, from the safety of their own homes, the rest of the nation watched a dereliction of democracy. Lines in cities like Milwaukee stretched for hours, and vulnerable but determined voters wore protective equipment as they waited.
Wisconsin’s recent election is a cautionary tale for Connecticut. It’s a reminder that we must act quickly to protect our democracy from falling victim to this pandemic. I’ve spent my first term in the legislature fighting for increased access to the ballot. Our caucus has proposed Early Voting, so that Connecticut residents can join 40 million other Americans in casting their ballot at a date and time convenient to them. We’ve fought to codify automatic voter registration, so that every eligible voter has an opportunity to make their voice heard. I sponsored a bill that would allow voters to request an absentee ballot through the Secretary of State’s secure online portal, because no one should be required to mail an application to Town Hall in the 21st century. I was disappointed that support for these reforms generally fell along party lines, since each bill is rooted in the non-partisan idea that our democracy is stronger when more people participate, not fewer. To those who have opposed voting reforms in the past, I hope that the new, clear threat of COVID-19 brings this issue into a different light.