• Darryl Brackeen, Jr – Chair, Generation Change CT

Testimony | Supporting an Electronic Voting Option (S.B. No. 5) | 3/26/21




TESTIMONY OF HON. DARRYL BRACKEEN, JR.

CHAIR | GENERATION CHANGE CT

ALDER | WARD 26 | CITY OF NEW HAVEN


SUBMITTED IN SUPPORT OF S.B. NO. 5 TO THE GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION & ELECTIONS COMMITTEE, CONNECTICUT GENERAL ASSEMBLY


PUBLIC HEARING | MARCH 26TH, 2021


Good afternoon, Senator Mae Flexer (Co-Chair), Representative Dan Fox (Co-Chair), Senator Rob Sampson (Ranking Member), Representative Gale Mastrofrancesco (Ranking Member), and members of the Government Administration and Elections (GAE) Committee.


My name is Darryl Brackeen, Jr and I am a lifelong resident of New Haven, and I have the privilege of serving as alderman for the city's 26th Ward. I am also the board chair of Generation Change CT, a statewide political action committee whose mission is to build a stronger, fairer, and more inclusive democracy and economy for all Connecticut residents. In this work, we are committed to making Connecticut a national leader in expanding voting rights and participation.


I want to express my strong support for S.B. No. 5, An Act Concerning Increased Opportunities for Absentee Voting, Safe and Secure In-Person Voting, and Voter Registration. Specifically, I would like to speak in support of Section 27 of the bill, which would provide municipalities with the ability to provide an electronic voting option for specific populations of voters who often have unique challenges and difficulties voting via traditional means, including: voters with disabilities, voters living outside of the United States, and voters who are active-duty military personnel, their spouses and dependents.


As the individual who has spearheaded the effort of providing an electronic voting option in New Haven, I am here to tell you that New Haven is eager and ready to offer an electronic voting option for these individuals; and with timely passage of this legislation, New Haven is strongly positioned to provide this option in our upcoming municipal elections in November 2021.


Before the pandemic started, I convened a working group with city officials and partner organizations to provide electronic and mobile voting options starting in municipal elections in the City of New Haven. Little did I know that when I proposed such an initiative for our city, we would experience the year we have had, causing so many of our present systems and way of doing things to adapt and change. As a case in point, we are using this electronic platform today to engage in the legislative process and we have all adapted and changed many of the ways we carry out everyday activities – from working, to schooling, to shopping, to visiting the doctor, to voting. In this past election, in response to the pandemic, many people chose to vote by mail and the response was overwhelming, demonstrating a clear desire and support for additional voting options in future elections.


To this end, in addition to in-person voting and mail-in voting, there is another easy, reliable, and secure way of voting, which is electronic or online voting. Electronic voting is a uniquely accessible and secure voting option whereby citizens can safely cast their ballots via smartphone, tablet, or computer. It is an especially helpful voting option for individuals facing unique challenges and hardships in casting their ballots, such as active-duty military personnel and their families, citizens living abroad, and citizens with disabilities.


The electronic voting system has been battle-tested and has been successfully adopted and implemented in several cities, counties, and states across the country. For example, in 2018, West Virginia offered an electronic mobile voting option to uniformed and overseas citizens and, in 2020, it extended the vote to citizens with disabilities as well. I'm happy to note that we have the privilege of having the Secretary of State of West Virginia, Mac Warner, and other electronic voting specialists, elections attorneys, members of the military and veterans community, and members of the disability community who are providing testimony today and can speak to their positive experiences and answer any questions about their process and system. In addition to West Virginia, electronic voting has been offered in such other diverse and varied jurisdictions as: Denver, CO, Utah County, UT, Jackson and Umatilla Counties in Oregon and King County, WA, among others.. Voters in Connecticut would be well-served by having a similar electronic voting option as well.


To accomplish this, we are asking the Government Administration & Election Committee and the Connecticut General Assembly to support New Haven and other municipalities seeking the option to provide and implement an electronic voting program for these populations of voters. New Haven is positioned to lead the charge and move forward immediately. We will have the funds available, the necessary partners in place, and the able support of New Haven City Town Clerk Michael Smart and New Haven Voter Registrar Shannel Evans to offer an electronic voting option for the city's upcoming 2021 municipal elections. This effort also has the support of our Mayor, Justin Elicker, and the leadership of the New Haven Board of Alders (city council), many of whom are providing testimony to the Committee.


In conclusion, I encourage the passage of S.B. No. 5 and we look forward to working with you and providing a more accessible and secure voting option available to our residents.. Thank you for your time and consideration on this important matter, and I am happy to answer any questions.


generationchangect.com


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