Student Voting Guide | Connecticut

August 15, 2014

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of Connecticut.  If you wish to vote from your school address, check the student voting guide for the state where you attend school. If you want to cast an absentee ballot in your home state, check the student voting guide for that state.

The Brennan Center is committed to giving students as much information as possible to help you exercise your constitutional right to vote. More than ever in recent history, changes to voting laws are being implemented in ways that can affect your ability to make your vote count. In addition to the content you will find in this Student Voting Guide, we continue to track passed and pending voting law changes here. While we are working to give you up-to-date information, we urge you to be proactive! In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, you should also check with your state and local (pdf) election officials for information about additional requirements or regulations.

This voting guide was last updated August 15, 2014.

Registration

Voters who have a Connecticut driver’s license, learner’s permit, or non-driver photo ID card can register online at the Secretary of State’s website. Registration applications are also available to download and print here.

In Connecticut, you may register in person at the county election office at any time before the election, including on Election Day.[1] If you mail in a voter registration form, the registration deadline is fourteen days before a general election, and mailed forms have to be postmarked by that date.[2] You may also register in person with the registrar of voters until the seventh day before a general election.

If you wish to vote in a primary election, you can register in person up until noon the day before a primary election.[3] The postmark deadline for a primary election is five days before the election.[4]

You can request that elections officials come to your campus to hold a voter registration drive by turning in an application with 25 student signatures to the registrar of voters.[5]

You can register to vote and vote in a primary election if you will be 18 by the next general election.[6] If you have been convicted of a felony, it may impact your ability to vote. If you think you might be affected, you should contact local election officials.

Residency

At School. Students can establish residency in Connecticut if they have a present intention to remain at their Connecticut school address for the time being, and they intend to make it their principal home.[7] Any other interpretation of the residency laws is unconstitutional. To count as a resident under Connecticut law, you have to be a “bona fide resident,” which means that your “dwelling unit is located within the geographic boundaries” of the town in which you register to vote.[8]  

At Home. Students who lived in Connecticut before moving to another state for school, and who wish to establish or keep their Connecticut voting residency, should have no problem doing so unless they have already registered to vote in another state. Like most states, Connecticut allows students to keep their voting residency even if they move out of the county or state to attend school, and the only way you might lose this residency is by establishing residency in a new state. While registering to vote in another state is not automatically considered abandonment of residency in Connecticut, some judges or officials might view it as such. If you have established residency in another state and are moving back to Connecticut with the intent to reside here, you will have to follow the normal registration procedures to re-register at home.

Voting in Connecticut may be considered a declaration of residency, potentially making you subject to other laws that govern state residents.

Challenges to Residency. The local election official has the right to deny your registration on the basis of residency, or to decide you are not eligible to remain registered, but you have the right to appeal that denial to the registrars or the full board of admissions for electors in your town.[9]  They will hold a hearing where you can submit evidence or offer testimony to prove your residency and receive a written ruling on your residency.[10] You can appeal that decision to the State Elections Enforcement Commission, and you can also appeal the Commission’s decision in court.[11] Students have the right to register to vote as a resident of Connecticut regardless of their student or tuition status.

Your eligibility to vote can also be challenged on Election Day by partisan challengers[12] or other voters at the polling place.[13]  Polling place challenges can only be made if the challenger knows, suspects, or reasonably believes that you are not qualified to vote; the challenge must be made under oath.[14] You will be able to make a statement under oath to prove your eligibility to vote.[15]  The chief poll worker will then decide whether you are eligible to vote.[16] If they decide you are eligible, you can vote a regular ballot.[17] If they decide you are ineligible, you may vote by provisional ballot for federal offices[18] and by a “challenged ballot” for state offices.[19]  If the registrars for your town find you to be an eligible voter, your provisional ballot will be counted,[20] but your challenged ballot will only be counted if the election is contested afterwards.[21]

Students have the right to cast a ballot as a resident of Connecticut regardless of whether they pay in-state or out-of-state tuition. Any challenge made solely on the basis of your student or tuition status is invalid.

Identification

If you register in person in Connecticut, you may be asked to show your driver’s license, birth certificate, or Social Security card.[22] If you do not have one of these with you, you can have another voter swear to your identity, place of birth, age, and residence, or provide any other proof the elections official will accept.[23]

Federal law requires that first-time voters who register by mail and do not have their identity verified by the state must provide ID, either when voting in person or by submitting a copy of their ID with their absentee ballot.[24] Acceptable ID includes any current and valid photo ID, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address.[25] If you cannot show ID when you vote, you can vote a provisional ballot, which will be counted if you are an eligible voter.[26]

At the polls, all voters will be asked to show a document that has your name and either your address, signature, or photograph. You can also show your license or your Social Security card.[27]  If you do not have ID and you are not a first-time voter who registered by mail (see paragraph above), you will be able to sign an affidavit affirming your address and vote a regular ballot.[28]

Absentee Voting

You can vote absentee in Connecticut if you will be absent from your election district during all voting hours for an election.[29] You must request an absentee ballot; applications are available online. You may bring your application to the town clerk in person, or you may mail it to their office.[30] The last chance to submit an absentee ballot application is the day before the election,[31] but if you are mailing your application you should send it in early enough to receive your ballot by mail and return it by Election Day.

If you mail back your completed absentee ballot, it must be received by close of polls on Election Day.[32] If you want to return your absentee ballot in person, you will have to bring it to the town clerk’s office by the day before the election.[33] If you are a first-time voter, you will have to include a copy of identification (see Identification section) in your absentee ballot envelope.[34]

Last Updated August 15, 2014


[1] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-19j.

[2] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-23g(d)(2)

[3] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-23a(a).

[4] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-23g(d)(2).

[5] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-19c(a).

[6] Conn. Const. Art. VI, § 11.

[7] See Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 330 (1972); Williams v. Salerno, 792 F.2d 323, 328 (2d Cir. 1986).

[8] Conn. Const.. Art. VI, § 1. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-12.                

[9] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-30; § 9-31l.

[10] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-31l.

[11] Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 9-31l(b)(1); § 4-183.

[12] Challengers are appointed by town registrars, who are partisan officers.  See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-190.

[13] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-232.

[14] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-232(b).

[15] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-232(b).

[16] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-232(a).

[17] Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 9-232(a)-(b).

[18] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-232l.

[19] Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 9-232d, 9-232e; 9-232j.

[20] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-232n.

[21] Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 9-232f.

[22] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-20(a).

[23] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-20(b).

[24] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-23r. 

[25] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-23r. 

[26] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-232n.

[27] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-261(a).

[28] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-261(a).

[29] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-135(a)(2).

[30] In some cases, you can return your absentee ballot request via fax or email, so long as you also mail your application to the clerk.  Call your town clerk to see if he accepts such submissions.  Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-140(b).

[31] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-140(h).  No absentee ballots will be issued on Election Day.  You may submit your application in person on the day before the election and pick up your absentee ballot at that time.

[32] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-140b(a).

[33] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-140b(a).

[34] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-23r; § 9-140b.