Historic Number of Votes Cast by Absentee Ballot in the 2020 Election

Connecticut’s Secretary of the State Denise Merrill (official portrait)

HARTFORD – Secretary of the State Denise Merrill on Thursday announced details of the historic number of absentee ballots cast in 2020.

“No voter should ever have to choose between protecting their health and casting their vote, and in Connecticut in the 2020 election, no voter was forced to make that choice. For the first time in Connecticut history, due to the COVID-19 crisis, every Connecticut voter was allowed to vote by absentee ballot if they chose to, and the response was overwhelming,” said Secretary Merrill. “ Connecticut voters clearly want options to make casting their ballots and making their voices heard more convenient. Allowing every voter to vote by absentee ballot in every election, as well as adding an option for Early Voting in-person, would make voting more convenient and make it easier for every registered voter to cast their ballot and choose the people who will represent them.”

2020 Absentee Ballots by the Numbers:

716,214 absentee ballots were requested and issued to voters

665,597 voters returned absentee ballots

92.93% of issued absentee ballots were returned


2,334,979 registered voters

28.50% of registered voters returned absentee ballots


1,861,086 votes cast

659,370 absentee ballot votes were counted

35.43% of votes cast were cast by absentee ballot


99.06% of returned absentee ballots were counted

0.94% of returned absentee ballots were rejected


The most likely reasons why an absentee ballot would be rejected is for lack of a signature on the inner envelope, lack of an inner envelope, enclosing more than one ballot in an inner envelope or more than one inner envelope in an outer envelope, or lack of an outer envelope. The absentee ballot rejection rate was 1.94% in 2018, 1.96% in 2016, 2.13% in 2014, and 2.11% in 2012. In 2020, Secretary Merrill used $600,000 in federal CARES Act funding and $2.1 million in third-party grant funding to educate Connecticut voters on the changes in the election due to COVID-19, including on how to cast a valid absentee ballot.

“When more voters vote by absentee ballot than in any other election in Connecticut history, but rejected absentee ballots are half as many as previous years, the message that every voter could participate by absentee ballot, and how to do it properly, clearly resonated with voters,” said Secretary Merrill. “This is a good illustration of the importance of federal and state investment in election infrastructure – if you build it, they will vote!”

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