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House Approves Same-Day Registration

CHRISTOPHER KEATING

May 27, 2009

After a bitter debate that has lasted more than a decade, the state House of Representatives voted Tuesday night to allow citizens to both register and vote on Election Day.

The controversial issue has a long history, including a veto in 2003 by then-Gov. John G. Rowland and a federal court ruling in 2005 that rejected same-day registration.

The dispute continued to rage Tuesday as the House battled for nearly six hours in one of the year's longest debates over whether Connecticut should become the 10th state to allow same-day registration.

With three top Democrats breaking ranks along with many of their party members, the House passed the bill, 81-65, in a chamber where the Republicans have only 37 members.

Many Democrats say the bill would increase voter participation and improve democracy, but Republicans countered that it could lead to last-minute voter fraud. The bill is bad public policy, they argued, because the fraud might not be detected until after the election's winner had been declared.

"We have new technology that allows us to have Election Day registration," said Rep. Jamie Spallone, adding that the state's centralized voter database has been vastly improved through the years. "The instances of fraud are few and far between" in other states.

Rep. Livvy Floren, a Greenwich Republican, supported the measure, having worked on the issue since arriving at the legislature in January 2001.

"This legislation increases voter participation," said Floren, the only House Republican who voted for the bill. "We have absolutely improved our record-keeping and centralized database. ... In my opinion, the time for election-day registration is today."

The measure now goes to the state Senate, where a debate is expected before the session ends on June 3.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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