Absentee ballot concerns emerge as election approaches


Photo by Madeleine Casey '22

To reduce the potential for COVID-19 spread from in-person voting, many are choosing to vote with absentee ballots. Ballots are mailed in or dropped off in-person in official ballot drop boxes. One is located in the back of Westport’s Town Hall.

COVID-19 has induced an unprecedented increase in the use of absentee ballots in Westport, leading, in turn, to increasing ballot rejection.

 Many fears stem from the fact that those now considering absentee voting have never done so before. 

“We have fielded all sorts of questions about absentee ballots from both first-time voters and long-time voters,”  Lisa Newman, an officer of Westport’s Democratic Town Committee, said. “For many long-time voters, this is the first year they’ve considered voting absentee so they’re learning how to navigate a new piece of the process.” 

This comes after Westport’s August primaries resulted in a seven-inch pile of ballots invalidated due to tardiness, according to Westport News. On the whole, almost 4,000 absentee ballots were rejected during Connecticut’s primaries, as reported by newspaper The Day.

[Absentee ballots] promote voting and allow for more people to be politically active.

— Sophia Kessler '22

Regardless of the postmarked date, absentee ballots must arrive before the Town Clerk by 8 p.m. on Election Day if they are to be counted. To mitigate the likelihood of a rejected ballot, some are choosing to drop theirs off in-person at the collection box behind Town Hall. 

For those choosing to mail in their ballots, there are steps that can be taken to ensure that their ballots are not rejected. 

“Our specific advice for young people and all voters: If you’re voting [absentee], do not wait until the last minute,” Newman said. “If mailing your ballot, we have been advised ballots should be mailed at least 10-14 days ahead of Election Day.”

Proponents of absentee voting see it as an effective way to safely participate in the democratic process. 

“I personally do not have much concern with the increased use of absentee voting,” Sophia Kessler ’22, said, the social media director for Staples’s Young Democrats Club, said. “It promotes voting and allows for more people to be politically active.”