The absentee ballot law should be changed so that people who fear COVID-19 can vote by absentee ballot during next November’s presidential election. Voters should not have to choose between their health and their freedom to vote.
It is encouraging that Connecticut is having fewer new cases, fewer hospitalizations, and fewer deaths from the disease than it was a couple of months ago, but the pandemic is still raging in other parts of the nation. We just don’t know what is going to happen next fall when people are back at work, back in school, and interacting in more familiar ways. And the scientists do not really know how the spread of other viruses next fall might affect the transmission of COVID-19.
People are already casual about wearing protective masks and maintaining social distancing even though the danger has not been eliminated.
Voting is heaviest during presidential election years, and there have been times in previous elections when the voting lines got backed up. If a voter is wary of ignoring the advice of the consensus of health care professionals, they may sensibly want to avoid going to a public gathering place if they are able.
The law gives six reasons why a person can get an absentee ballot. One of them is because of his or her illness. But some people with the coronavirus are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic. That means that there would be people who were sick with COVID-19 who would feel that they did not legally qualify for an absentee ballot even though they were actually sick.
So the law, as it currently stands, can fail to meet the very standard that it purports to meet by compelling some people, sick with a potentially dangerous disease, to vote in person at the polling place. If left unchanged, the law will lead to an illogical and absurd situation.
It is not reasonable to oppose changing the absentee ballot law to allow people to avoid going to the polls in person as long as the coronavirus still presents a real danger to the public. The law for voting by absentee ballot should be changed, at least until there is substantial evidence that the pandemic has actually passed or there is an effective COVID-19 vaccine.