Let’s face it: Yalies are busy. Classes, work, extracurriculars, you name it — we’ve always got something to do. So understandably, finding time to vote may prove difficult for many of us. Lines at the polls get longer every year, most of us lack transportation if our polling place is far and we only have a single day to vote — a workday, no less. Thus, our generation’s low voting rate comes as no surprise. This November, however, we have a chance to fix that problem.
Soon, we in Connecticut will face a choice: to allow early voting or to maintain the massive structural problems of our current system. The state constitution currently forbids in-person early voting and only allows absentee ballots for a limited set of reasons. However, the legislature, under the leadership of Governor Dannel Malloy, voted to put an amendment on the ballot to change all that. I urge you, regardless of party, to vote “yes” on Question 1 and ensure everyone can have access to our most basic of civic duties.
Connecticut needs to catch up. Almost two-thirds of states already have early voting in one form or another, and more than half allow anyone to request an absentee ballot without having to justify themselves. Some states even have complete vote-by-mail — ballots are simply mailed out to all voters. The amendment on Connecticut’s November ballot would allow the state the freedom to pick whichever of these methods works best. But regardless of the specifics, our state cannot afford to wait any longer to fix its electoral woes.
In some areas, Connecticut has made great strides to ensure voting remains fair. Now, voters can register on the day of the election, driver’s-license-holders can submit their registration online and candidates can qualify for public financing. But none of these reforms matter if voters can’t get to the polls in the first place.
In fact, during the state’s last gubernatorial election, crowds overwhelmed a number of polling places, causing huge delays and confusion. If even a fraction of those voters had been able to vote early, such difficulties could have easily been avoided. This amendment, then, is about more than just convenience. Basic electoral fairness is at stake.
Yale in particular needs early voting. Back where I’m from, county schools all close on Election Day. So imagine my surprise freshman year to learn not only that class was still in session, but also that students are forbidden from rescheduling assignments in order to make time to vote. “Don’t even think of it!” a dean e-mailed us students at the time. But if the administration won’t accommodate our responsibility both “for country” and “for Yale,” passing the early voting amendment this November will.
Across the nation, there’s been a coordinated assault on voting access, one that imperils our fundamental rights as citizens. Particularly for young voters, the threat is dire: Many states have passed voter ID laws that exclude student IDs, while many more are closing early voting on weekends, the few days young people are free from work and classes.
Only a small group of states are working to fight back against these disenfranchising measures. In two months, let’s add Connecticut to that list. Say “yes” to early voting this November.
Jacob Wasserman is a junior in Saybrook College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.