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Connecticut VA Allows Voter Registration
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Newly registered voter, veteran Gregory Williams with State officials outside West Haven VA Hospital: Photo by Diane OrsonNewly registered voter, veteran Gregory Williams with State officials outside West Haven VA Hospital: Photo by Diane OrsonConnecticut Veterans Administration officials have shifted their policy and will allow elections officials into federal VA facilities to register veterans to vote.

Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz raised concerns several weeks ago about a new federal directive banning non-partisan voter registration drives at VA hospitals, nursing homes and homeless shelters. When she tried to enter the VA Hospital in West Haven in June to register veterans, she was turned away. Outside the hospital on Thursday, Bysiewicz told reporters that a new agreement has been reached with CT VA officials.

"Today we congratulate the CT Veterans Administration for changing their policy and allowing us in but we renew our call and renew our fight to insure that veterans all around our country have the same right and opportunity that veterans today have here in CT."

Bysiewicz was allowed to register in-patients and residents, conduct a voter education session and demonstrate new optical scan voting machines. Roger Johnson, director of the CT’s VA Healtcare System said he hopes this will be the start of a new partnership.

"We are working within VA policy which does allow us to do voter assistance for in patients and residents and working in a collaborative fashion with the Secretary of State."

In July, elections officials in 20 states signed a letter to the US Department of Veterans Affairs asking that the ban be reversed, but the request was denied. Legislation has been introduced in Congress that would repeal the federal policy. Hearings are expected in September.