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CT considers ban on weapons at polling locations, other election safeguards

State Rep. Matt Blumenthal (D-Stamford)
Molly Ingram
State Rep. Matt Blumenthal (D-Stamford)

Connecticut lawmakers are considering a slew of election bills that they say will protect voters and election workers ahead of November’s presidential election.

They held a public hearing on multiple pieces of legislation on Wednesday.

One of the bills would keep guns and other weapons away from polling places. It would also allow election workers to keep their addresses from being disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act.

State Representative Matt Blumenthal (D-Stamford), co-chair of the Government Administration and Elections (GAE) Committee, supports the bill.

“Threats against elections workers and elections officials have spiraled out of control,” Blumenthal said. “In the last four years since the 2020 election, election workers have faced a constant stream of death threats, often quite graphic. They have been doxed.”

He warned the state may lose veteran election workers to retirement ahead of November’s election because of the increased threats around the country. He said he was not, off the top of his head, aware of any recent harassment complaints from election workers.

Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas testified on the bill, confirming that election workers around the state are afraid of retaliation they might receive because of their position.

“When I have monthly calls with registrars and town clerks, when I travel around the state doing poll worker appreciation events, they express fear and concern,” Thomas said.

GAE member Senator Rob Sampson (R-Wolcott) said he was concerned the bill would only keep gun owners from exercising their 2nd Amendment right to carry a firearm.

“I do take issue with the bill and the assertion that folks are somehow not worthy of their constitutional protections because they’re near a polling location or even inside of one,” Sampson said. “The way I look at it is, somebody who is a bad actor intent on harming, they’re not going to care about the law one iota.”

Lawmakers are also considering banning artificially generated material for elections or political campaigns.

It is, in part, in response to robocalls in New Hampshire that imitated President Biden’s voice.

State Senator Mae Flexer (D-Brooklyn), co-chair of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, supports the bill.

“It's a way to make sure that campaign materials, especially in our public financing system, people can have confidence in those and how they're created and what information is being shared on behalf of a candidate and other political actors,” Flexer said.

The material would be banned 90 days before an election. Materials with a clear disclaimer on them would be allowed. The bill would also punish bad actors who interfere with the election process via AI-generated material.


Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.
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