The Government Administration and Elections (GAE) Committee Meeting met yesterday to debate and vote on a number of bills primarily focused on curing racial disparities and expanding voting access. Republicans managed to get some items on the agenda focused on increased transparency of quasi-public agencies and their most important policy initiative – HB 6325 – a collection of policy changes focused on protecting election integrity.
State Senator Rob Sampson (R-16) and State Representative Gale Mastrofrancesco (R-80) serve as the ranking members of the committee and have been working closely with the majority party chairs to mitigate the potential less restrictive election laws pose to undermine the integrity of the entire system.
One of the measures that was to be included in the HB 6325 was a provision to enable a signature verification system to be studied as a pilot program in five CT municipalities. The specific provision and five of the other nine election related provisions, were removed from the bill by the Democrat co-chairs only hours before the committee was to vote on the bill.
Senator Sampson proposed an amendment to reinstate the pilot program, but his amendment failed along a party line vote. Sampson and Mastrofrancesco offer the following reaction to what transpired at the Committee Meeting:
“At the meeting, the democratic members of the GAE committee, including the chairs, took a complete 180 degree turn from the collaborative and considerate manner we have been conducting our business thus far this session.
“We are incredibly disappointed that the same, reasonable measure we have been openly touting as a priority, for which we have received public statements of support and agreement from my democratic counterparts at previous meetings, was removed at the last minute AND denied being included in matters passed out of committee.
“While Connecticut lawmakers look to expand voter access and relax election laws, there must be some consideration given to those residents who need reassurance that election integrity is a priority and will be enforced. It is shocking to me how extreme the majority party’s opposition is to any and all efforts to increase the security in Connecticut’s election process. This was nothing more than a five-town pilot program, but it would have been a sign of compromise. If included in matters passed out of committee, it would have been a commitment to begin the necessary steps to promote election integrity while state government simultaneously pushes for both early voting and no excuse absentee voting.
“We made it incredibly clear with the chairs that this was our most important initiative as ranking members of the committee so not only are we upset at the policy decision but at the false impression we were given by the Democrats of their interest in compromise or bipartisan solutions. It is also crystal clear that the Democrats want the loosest possible election process, and don’t care what consequences that brings.”