To the Editor:
Despite the extraordinary and heartbreaking toll that Covid-19 has taken on our state and the possibility of a dangerous resurgence of the virus this fall, state Sen. Eric Berthel, R-32, continues to move forward with his lawsuit challenging Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s Memorandum of Opinion from May 6.
In that opinion, Secretary Merrill reviewed the definition of “illness” under Connecticut law and clarified that certain groups of at-risk voters, particularly seniors, will qualify to vote by absentee ballot this November based on preexisting conditions which make them especially vulnerable to Covid-19.
Secretary Merrill’s reasonable view was taken in good faith as part of her constitutional duty to ensure safe and fair elections. The truth is, absentee voting has worked well in Connecticut for decades and there is no reason why it should not be utilized on a greater scale during this disruptive period.
While voter fraud is admittedly a risk with any absentee ballot system, actual cases of such fraud are exceedingly rare. According to the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation, there have only been 20 instances of absentee voter fraud in all Connecticut elections since 1988.
No citizen should ever have to choose between their health and their right to vote. Our state remains in the middle of a pandemic and we must act accordingly. Our leaders should be making it easier for voters during this national emergency, not cluttering the system with ludicrous legal challenges and roadblocks.
If Sen. Berthel cares about the voices and health of his constituents, he should withdraw his name immediately from this misguided lawsuit and urge his co-plaintiffs to drop the proceeding as well.
Michael Carrington, chair
Democratic Town Committee