Voters With Health Conditions Eligible For Absentee Ballots

AP
May 06, 2020 - 11:49 am

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTIC and AP) — Connecticut residents with heart conditions, diabetes and other health problems that could make them more susceptible to the coronavirus will be eligible to vote by absentee ballot, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced Wednesday.

Health care workers and first responders also qualify, she said.

Merrill released her interpretation of the state's absentee ballot laws, which she called the most restrictive in the country. The laws limit absentee ballots to residents who cannot vote in person on Election Day because of illness, physical disability, military service, religious beliefs and a few other reasons.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified a number of health conditions that could put people at more risk of developing serious complications from the coronavirus, including heart problems, asthma, diabetes, lung disease, severe obesity and pregnancy.

Merrill said residents with such conditions can qualify to vote by absentee ballot using the illness exception. She also said people who may have come in contact with someone infected by the coronavirus also qualify as “ill” including health care workers, first responders and people caring for someone with health conditions that put them more at risk.

Connecticut's primary election is Aug. 11, and the general election is Nov. 3. Merrill's office is planning to send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters.

“No Connecticut voter should be forced to choose between their health and their right to vote,” she said in a statement. "This interpretation of the law will allow the maximum number of Connecticut voters to use their illness as an excuse under the existing statute because of the specific nature of the coronavirus.”

More than 30,000 state residents have tested positive for the coronavirus, and more than 2,600 have died.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

In other developments related to the coronavirus:

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NONRESIDENT BEACH BAN

East Lyme officials have voted to ban nonresidents from the town's three beaches beginning Memorial Day weekend, in an effort to keep beaches open by limiting crowds and allowing for social distancing.

The town's Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously approved the ban during a virtual meeting Monday, The Day newspaper reported.

“This is the commission’s effort to keep the beaches open in some capacity,” Parks and Recreation Director Dave Putnam said. “Otherwise, they would have to close.”

The panel said the ban could be lifted if officials loosen social distancing restrictions.

Nonresidents won't be allowed at McCook’s Point Park & Beach, Hole-in-the-Wall Beach or Niantic Bay Beach at Cini Park. Attendants will check people's identification and season passes at the beach entrances. Season passes will only be sold to residents.

The town's popular Niantic Bay Boardwalk will continue to be open to nonresidents. A one-way walk pattern has been put into place for social distancing purposes.

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FRAUD TASK FORCE

A joint federal and state task force has been formed in Connecticut to investigate fraud related to the coronavirus, officials said Wednesday.

The task force will focus on price gouging, fraud in health care and government programs, consumer and small business scams, lending scams, charity fraud and cyber fraud. Violators could face state or federal criminal prosecution or civil fines and penalties, or both.

The task force was announced by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, state Attorney General William Tong, Chief State's Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. and FBI Special Agent in Charge David Sundberg.