Hartford Foundation Submits Testimony in Support of Senate Bill 184 to Absentee Ballot Procedures and Policies

Read the Foundation's Testimony

On Friday, March 4, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving submitted written testimony to the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee in support of Senate Bill 184 An Act Extending Through November 8, 2022, Several Changes Regarding Election Administration As A Result Of Covid-19 And Concerning Eligibility To Vote By Absentee Ballot.

As part of our efforts to dismantle structural racism and improve social and economic mobility for Black and Latinx residents of Greater Hartford, the Hartford Foundation supports civic and resident engagement in our region. Community voice and leadership are priorities for the Hartford Foundation that run throughout our strategic priorities. Our commitment to civic engagement takes many forms, including support for efforts to increase voting, participation in local government, volunteering or sharing ideas on how resources could be used to make our community a better place. Resident engagement efforts seek to develop resident leadership and opportunities for collective action. The Foundation believes it is vital that policy decisions are informed by a diverse group of residents who are impacted by the actions at City Hall and the State Capitol.

The Hartford Foundation has been committed to engaging voters for several years. In 2018, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving launched its first nonpartisan voter registration initiative. Thirteen community-based nonprofits successfully registered over 1,000 new voters and received 1,500 pledges to participate in the 2018 elections, primarily among populations least likely to participate in elections:  young adults, Latinx and Black residents and people living in high poverty neighborhoods.

In 2019, the Hartford Foundation awarded 20 grants totaling $448,400 to support voter engagement in 2019 and 2020 and Census participation activities. In 2020, amidst COVID restriction requirements, the Foundation provided grants to five organizations to provide additional support for socially distanced civic engagement and voter engagement activities.  In 2021, the Foundation awarded $93,680 to the San Juan Center to support a civic engagement and communication collaborative project focused on Latino Hartford residents.

In 2020, more than 650,000 people safely and conveniently cast their ballots by taking advantage of the no-cost, postage-paid, absentee ballots. While COVID mandates are relaxing, many residents battle ongoing health concerns that preclude them from being in public. The Foundation supports the extension of absentee ballot procedures and policies included in Senate Bill 184.  Having access to mail-in and drop box voting will allow ensure that more of our residents, particularly those most impacted by COVID-19, remain engaged in civic life.

The Foundation is eager to partner with legislators and advocates to support efforts to ensure that all residents have a voice on critical issues and the solutions that are responsive to and reflective of our entire community.