HARTFORD — Early voting will not occur in Connecticut before 2021, if ever, the House of Representatives determined Thursday.

Only a simple majority of representatives approved of asking voters on the ballot whether Connecticut residents should be allowed to vote before election day.

Many Republicans voiced concerns that creating more voting days would be expensive for town. Meanwhile, Democrats said the provision would allow more people to access the polls.

Some 81 representatives voted in favor with 65 against and four people not voting. Republicans Rep. Livvy Floren, R-Greenwich, Rep. Devin Carney, R-Old Lyme, and Jesse MacLachlan, R-Westbrook, crossed party lines to vote with Democrats to support early voting.

The simple majority means major hurdles are ahead before the state constitution could be amended to permit early voting.

If the Senate also approves putting the early voting question on the ballot, the General Assembly will have to take up the matter again - and approve it again - next year. Then, in 2020 the following question would go on the ballot: "Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to allow the General Assembly to provide opportunities for early voting in person during the fourteen days prior to the day of an election?"

If voters say yes, the General Assembly in 2021 would then pass legislation dictating how many days - at least two, but not more than five - during the two week window on which voters could cast ballots early.

“It puts reforming our election laws in the hands of our lawmakers,” said Rep. Daniel Fox, D-Stamford, chair of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, who championed the bill. He explained that early voting would allow people who work long hours or more than one job or are ill have several options for when they could go to the polls.

Rep. Laura Devlin, R-Fairfield, argued that Connecticut had 77 percent voter turnout in 2016 so she did not see evidence that people are struggling to vote. She and many other Republicans worried that opening the polls several times for presidential and other elections would be too pricey for Connecticut towns to staff and operate the voting booths.

Republicans pitched multiple other ideas to combat voter fraud that they said were more important than expanding voting.

Rep. Laura Devlin, R-Fairfield, suggested instead of early voting, absentee ballots should be audited to ensure they are not improperly cast.

“It’s the easiest way to commit voter fraud,” said Rep. Jason Perillo, R-Shelton. “Absentee ballots are ripe for it and in fact we hear about it every year.”

Devlin’s proposal failed, as did an amendment from Perillo that would require Connecticut residents to present a valid photo ID in order to vote with the same justification: fighting fraud. Both were struck down with 78 Democrats against and only 68 Republicans in favor, with four not voting.

Multiple independent and academic studies have found voter fraud to be on the scale of one in a million or less. A 2012 study from Arizona State University exhaustively pulled records from every state for all alleged election fraud and found the overall election fraud rate to be “infinitesimal.”

“Since 2000 there are 31 total documented cases of voter fraud over $1 billion ballots were cast in this time,” said Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven. “You are literally 75 more likely to be hit by lightning than to see a case of voter fraud in Connecticut.”

emunson@hearstmediact.com; Twitter: @emiliemunson