Connecticut: Here's How to Make Sure Your Vote Counts in the 2020 Election

What you need to know, including key deadlines, registration details, and how to vote by mail.

Grace Han/Thrillist
Grace Han/Thrillist

Now's the time to start thinking about how you're going to cast your vote in the fast-approaching General Election on November 3. Whether you're hitting the polls IRL or opting for a mail-in absentee ballot, there are a number of steps to take to ensure you can follow through.

Registering is a good a place to start, but with Election Day coming up soon, you've also gotta get smart about other details and deadlines. Here's everything you need to know for a seamless and stress-free voting process. 

What's the deadline to register to vote in Connecticut? 

The deadline to register to vote in Connecticut -- whether you're doing so online, by mail, or in person -- is October 27. If you're submitting your registration application via mail, you'll want to ensure it's postmarked by that date. 

How to register to vote in Connecticut

First, you've gotta double check that you're actually eligible to vote in the state. There are three questions to ask: 1) Are you at least 17 and will be 18 before Election Day? 2) Are you a United States citizen living in Connecticut? and 3) If you were convicted of a felony, have you finished your confinement and parole? If you've got a trio of yeses then you are free to vote. Yay!

  • Online: This is the quickest and safest way to go about registering. Just head over to the online registration portal and get started.
  • By mail: If, for one reason or another, you aren't planning to go about the process digitally, you can also send your voter registration in via mail and still avoid any coronavirus concerns. Just download a form and send it your Registrar of Voters office.
  • In person: You'll fill out the same form as you would for mail-in registration, but instead of plopping it in the USPS, you'll submit it at your appointed Registrar of Voters office.

While you should be mindful of that October 27 deadline, the state of Connecticut does allow you to register and vote in person on the Election Day at your registration location.

Can I vote early? 

Nope. Connecticut does not allow early voting, unfortunately. 

Can I vote by mail?

Good news, yes. According to a July Special Session Act and per Secretary of State guidance, Connecticut is allowing all registered voters to apply for and receive absentee ballots. You just have to check the COVID-19 box on your application.

How to request an absentee ballot in Connecticut? 

There are a couple of ways to request an absentee ballot if you didn't already receive on in the mail. You'll have to submit an application via mail directly to your town clerk or by dropping it off in a safe and secure drop box outside your town hall, according to the Secretary of State's absentee voting information page.

For the procrastinators out there that do wait until the last minute to send out an application (specifically within six days of the election), you'll need to fill out an emergency application form. Maybe just plan ahead and get yours done well in advance. Do not delay.

How to vote absentee in Connecticut 

The Town Clerk will process your application and send a ballot directly to your provided address. Once you've received it, you'll want to follow the instructions carefully to cast your vote, before returning it via mail or in person. Whichever route you go for sending the ballot back doesn't matter as long as it is received prior to the close of polls on Election Day.

How can I make sure my absentee ballot is counted?

It's a matter of following the instructions and meeting the deadlines. It's also a good idea to avoid tearing or otherwise damaging your absentee ballot materials so that it's not thrown out on some sort of technicality. 

How can I stay safe while voting in person?

Polling places are open statewide from 6am to 8pm. Use the state's handy lookup tool to find your polling location.

While voting by mail is likely the safest way to participate in this election, there are ways you can reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 if you plan to vote in person at your local polling place. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has issued safety recommendations for voters.

Here's a rundown of what the CDC recommends, per its official election guidance page:

  • Wear a mask. 
  • Keep a distance of at least six feet from others at all times.
  • Wash your hands both before and after leaving your polling location.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol frequently throughout your time inside the polling place, especially after you touch things like door hands, voting machines, and other surfaces that lots of other people touch.
  • If you cough or sneeze, cover them with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Dispose of the tissues in a lined garbage can, then use that 60% alcohol hand sanitizer again. 
  • Don't try to disinfect the voting machine or equipment yourself because you may end up damaging them with cleaners and disinfectant products. This is where hand sanitizer comes in again. Use it right after you touch the voting equipment, and if you use it before you touch the equipment, make sure your hands have dried first.
  • Try to vote when your polling place isn't as busy. This might involve driving by and checking to see how long the line is.
  • Verify that you're registered to vote before you leave home and make sure you bring any documents you'll need to avoid complications that could result in spending more time inside the polling place.
  • Bring your own black ink pen for marking your ballot, or your own stylus (just check with a polling place worker before you use it). 
  • If possible, fill out a sample ballot at home that you can use to speed up casting your ballot at the polling location.

Additional Connecticut voting resources: 

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Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.