This weekly segment by Democrats for Education Reform CT looks at the top education stories Democrats are watching, providing bite-sized analysis and links to recent articles. On the roster this week: Election Endorses Educational Equity; High Voter Turnout in CT; and Early Election Takeaways!
Educational Equity Gets a Green Light Last Night
The 2021 legislative session offers an opportunity to continue to build momentum for policies that favor equity in public education. With a renewed mandate, after a summer of a national reckoning on race, the increased Democratic majorities in Connecticut certainly can see this election as an endorsement of the equity-oriented policies that they passed earlier this year. There were many pieces of equal rights focused education legislation that were left incomplete in recent years. Systemic changes in education policy are needed to prioritize excellence and opportunity for all students, as well as help Connecticut keep up with important efforts in other states across the country. Connecting equity policies like systematically improving early literacy and funding public education with fairness as its north star will be crucial. Large majorities in both houses should provide confidence to caucus leaders that this is an opportunity to make a difference and build a legacy on advancing educational equity in Connecticut. Let’s go!
Turnout Jumps in CT, Increased AB Access a Success
Unsurprisingly, Joe Biden won handily in the Nutmeg State. And with increased access to Absentee Ballots due the pandemic, we are on track in Connecticut for record turnout. As of mid-day today with only 89% reported, they have tallied 1,654,835 votes cast statewide (by comparison, 2016 saw a total of 1.64M and 2012 1.54M), and the turnout favored Democrats in all corners of the state. While some close races are still being decided, the ability to count and report results in this new format quickly and fairly gives the legislature a clear opening to act on expanding voter access in future elections, and creating a standard for early voting here. It’s important to remember that a clear majority of Connecticut voters want the state to go even further, however, and support permanent early voting in person even beyond the COVID pandemic; this support was clearly demonstrated in ERNA’s pre-election polling.
Democrats Make Added Gains in the Legislature
Heading into Election Day, Democrats in Connecticut had significant majorities in both the State House and Senate, and those leads have only grown after the ballots have been counted. In the Assembly, Democrats are likely to increase their control of the chamber by adding at least 7 seats to see a new majority of 98 members, with Republicans holding a minority with 53 seats. And in the State Senate, Democrats that held a 22 to 14 lead appear to have expanded that advantage to a 24 seat majority, just shy of a super majority.
Early Takeaways on Election Results
Education was on the ballot this election, and our affiliate ERNA CT wanted to make sure Connecticut young voters and voters of color made it to the polls. Focusing on Fairfield and New London Counties, the effort targeted 71,000 registered voters via voter education texts, reminding them in the last few days to cast their ballots in their local drop boxes or at their polling places before yesterday’s deadline.
While Connecticut is not finished counting ballots in all races, we wanted to congratulate the winners in a number of newly flipped seats, including Jorge Cabrera (SD17), Rick Lopes (SD6), House candidates Stephanie Thomas (HD143), Jen Leeper (HD132), Jim Jinks (HD90), Eleni DeGraw (HD17), Aimee Berger-Grivalo (HD111) and Michael DiGiovancarlo (HD74).
In an Election night twist—the former seat of outgoing House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (HD30) has gone red, with a win by Donna Veach, and the former seat of retiring House Minority Leader Themis Klarides (HD114) has gone blue, with a win by Mary Welander.
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