Making Democracy Work

Tony Hwang


Tony Hwang

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LWVFF - Do you support either in-person early voting and/or expanded use of absentee ballot (mail-in) voting? Why or why not?
TH - The right to vote is one of the greatest privileges of American citizenship. Growing up in a country under the constraints of martial law and the suspension of the freedoms we have in the United States, I value my vote and make a special effort to vote every election year. The security of one person, one vote and the complexities of balancing access is a priority and a critical role for our state government. And one that cannot be taken lightly. The expanded use of absentee ballot voting is a major issue of debate.

The current statute on absentee voting provides that any person may vote by absentee ballot if:
1. he/she is absent from his city or town of residence during all hours of voting;
2. he/she is ill;
3. he/she is physically disabled;
4. the tenet of his/her religion forbid secular activity on the day of the primary, election or referendum;
5. he/she is in active service with the armed forces of the United States; or
6. he/she is an election or referendum official outside of his voting district and his duties will keep him away during all hours of voting (CGS 9-135).

I support a Constitutional amendment that would only incorporate a no-excuse use of absentee ballots to accommodate changing and challenging work and lifestyle demands.

I would support legislation that would simply remove one phrase from the existing statute. Currently, voters can cast absentee ballots if they are out of town "during all of the hours of voting." That phrase means someone who is in town for a few hours during Election Day is ineligible to use the absentee ballot. The proposed legislation would remove the "during all of the hours of voting," making it easy for commuters or other busy residents to cast absentee ballots.

LWVFF - Will you sponsor or support legislation to require disclosure of campaign-related activities by PACs, SuperPACs, and other "dark money" organizations?
TH - The question essentially addresses the consequences of "dark money" impacting state elections and campaign related activities of PACs and SuperPACs by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United, a decision that freed corporations and wealthy donors to spend freely on election campaigns.

I would again draft, sponsor and support legislation to require a more thorough and transparent disclosure of PACs, SuperPACs and other outside interest money contributions into our state elections.

In 2012, as ranking member of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, I worked in a collaborative landmark effort to garner bipartisan General Assembly passage of legislation on PACs and SuperPACs disclosures. The bill was a reaction to the flow of anonymous dollars into state campaigns from undisclosed contributors. The bill required the disclosure of donations by independent groups that spend money to influence state elections. This was a campaign finance disclosure bill hailed at that time by Common Cause to be the strongest campaign finance disclosure law in the country. Unfortunately, this reform bill was vetoed by Governor Malloy and was never enacted.

LWVFF - Since all of the states that border CT now charge tolls or user fees for the use of their highways or bridges, should CT install electronic tolls? If so, how should that revenue be used?
TH - The latest innovation and technology has made toll collections seem effortless and would not impact traffic flow. However, tolls is just another user tax on CT residents and businesses. My current opposition to tolls is based on the fact that CT residents are already saddled with one of the highest tax burden in the United States. Tax Foundation, a leading independent tax policy nonprofit, ranks CT as the 47th worst tax state in the US. We cannot add more taxes, particularly if they adversely impact our residents and businesses.

Policy ideas about implementing toll taxes as a solution to our transportation and infrastructure needs are incomplete, because it does not address the fundamental problem in CT... I believe that we do not have a revenue problem in CT; rather we have a spending prioritization problem in state government. Unless we create a fiscally accountable budget that respectfully appropriates money to emphasize transportation, public safety and protecting our most vulnerable and at-risk population, we should not consider any additional toll taxes.

I support the Transportation Lockbox amendment and would have preferred to close the loophole that allowed the siphoning of money before placement into lockbox.

LWVFF - If elected would you support establishing an independent citizens redistricting commission--similar to California's-- to draw legislative district lines after the next census? Would you support open meetings and public hearing by CT's redistricting commission?
TH - Political gerrymandering of voting districts needs to stop. I would suggest a statutorily defined commission that encompasses judicial oversight along with nonpartisan demographic research organizations supporting an "independently" selected citizens membership. The goal would be to collaboratively and objectively work to redraw district election maps in a transparent process.

Elected leaders need to commit to their community and represent the priorities and values of their respective electoral district; it is the foundation of our representative form of government. Fair and natural boundaries guided by community, population and demographic changes are essential to the element of one person, one vote doctrine.

I would welcome public commission hearings. Ultimately, I am hopeful that this process will allow seeking elected office to focus on representing the "People" rather than a "Political Party".

The questions above have been created by the League of Women Voters of Fairfield.

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