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Know Your Voting Rights

The state has laws that cover your voting rights as well as a Bill of Rights for voters.

As a Connecticut voter you are guaranteed certain rights that protect how and when you vote.

In fact, state law lays out in detail what those rights are and what to do if you believe they’ve been violated.  Under Connecticut’s election laws every registered voter in the state has the right to:

  • Inspect a sample ballot before voting
  • Get instructions on how to operate your town’s voting equipment, on sample voting equipment, before you vote
  • Cast your ballot, even if the polls close while you’re in line waiting to vote
  • Ask for and receive assistance in voting
  • Vote free from coercion or intimidation
  • Cast a ballot using voting equipment that accurately counts all votes
  • Vote by provisional ballot if you’re registered to vote but your name does not appear on your town’s list when you go to the polls
  • Be told how to restore your right to vote if you were once a convicted felon
  • Vote independently and in privacy at a polling place, regardless of physical disability

Anyone 18 years of age or older can vote, with the exception of convicted or incarcerated felons. And while there have been debates and lawsuits in Connecticut and other states about the voting rights of the mentally disabled, Connecticut election laws specifically contain provisions protecting the rights of the mentally disabled. Basically, unless a Probate Court has ruled otherwise, the mentally disabled are considered competent to vote in Connecticut, even if that person, by virtue of their disability, has a court-appointed conservator to help them make decisions. Under state law, that conservator also does not have the right to decide whether that mentally disabled person can vote.

“A person with mental retardation who wishes to become a voter can be deprived of the right to vote only if a Probate Court specifically finds him/her incompetent to vote,” states Connecticut General Statute 17a-541. Additionally, it states, “No patient hospitalized in any public or private facility for the treatment of persons with mental illness shall be deprived of the right to vote.”

The state’s voter’s bill of rights can be found here, and information about the rights of voters with disabilities can be found here.

There are also state laws governing how convicted felons can regain their voting rights and an explanation of those can be found here.

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