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Editorial Voting needs to skip ahead two centuries

November 14, 2018

The issue: After months of anticipation, voters had to wait another 10 hours after polls closed for the next governor of Connecticut to be determined.

Ten hours. Even the New York Yankees could squeeze in three lengthy games in that much time.

While waiting in line to vote, you may have paused to consider why this core function of Democracy is limited to a 14-hour period on a specific Tuesday on the calendar.

Sounds like the perfect system, doesn’t it? Not too hot, not too cold.

That’s why the farmers went for it 173 years ago. It was between harvests.

And Tuesday? Well, it took some farmers a few days to travel to the polls, and Sundays were out of the question due to church obligations.

People keep doing a lot of things that make no sense, like wearing neckties or high heels. Or Daylight-Saving Time. Or waiting in long lines at dawn on Black Friday, but not voting because of the inconvenience.

When results are compromised, though, it’s worth reconsidering old habits.

What we wrote: “Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia allowed early voting in 2016. That voting can take the form of a mailed in ballot — a sort of unexcused absentee ballot — or appearing in person on specified dates and at specified locations. Some of that early voting begins in September.

The precedent is there: It wasn’t until 1845 that Congress established that November formula. Before then, the 27 states had a 34-day period not to extend beyond the first Wednesday of December to have their presidential election. The first Wednesday of December was the date set for the meeting of the Electoral College, the electors from each of the states.” Editorial: March 10, 2017

What’s new: Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill wants to shake things up. In addition to trying again to bring early voting to the state and create no-excuses absentee voting (meaning voters don’t need to give a reason), she wants to propose that 16 year olds be registered to vote when they get their learners permits at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Where we stand: Voters are fickle enough to avoid polling places when it rains, so we’re all for options.

Leaving 169 municipalities to their own devices is the reason some offer chairs to voters, while others ask them to stand. Or why some had folders to shield ballots from wet hands coming in from the rain, and others were unable to pass soggy paper through machines.

A constitutional amendment is needed to change voting practices in the Land of Steady Habits. It’s worth it. Across the United States, a record 36 million voters recorded their choices ahead of Election Day.

These changes would not only be beneficial to the people who take advantage of them but shorten wait times on the first Tuesday in November.

Hopefully, towns could also reap the harvest of votes more quickly.

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