Secretary of the State Denise Merrill Announces Legislative Proposals for 2019
The proposals focus on modernizing elections, improving Election Day administration, increasing access to voter registration and voting, and strengthening election security
HARTFORD – Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announces proposals for the 2019 legislative session with a focus on modernizing elections, improving Election Day administration, increasing access to registration and voting, and strengthening election security.
“Connecticut citizens deserve the best run elections in the United States,” said Merrill. “Although Connecticut has consistently been ranked as having among the best managed elections in the country, there is room for improvement. From Early Voting to allowing 16 year olds to preregister to vote at the DMV, we are committed to ensuring that every eligible person in Connecticut can easily register, and every registered voter can conveniently vote.”
The anchors of the proposals to increase access to voter registration and voting are two Constitutional Amendments. The Early Voting Amendment will allow Connecticut voters to enjoy a minimum of three days of Early Voting. Currently, voters in 39 states and the District of Columbia are able to use some form of Early Voting to cast their ballots. In 2018, close to 40 million voters voted prior to the midterm election, a record number for a midterm election. The Constitutional Amendment to Prepare 16 Year Old Citizens for Voting will allow 16 year old Connecticut citizens to preregister to vote, effective on their 18th birthday. 13 states and the District of Columbia allow 16 year olds to preregister now. Many 16 year olds have their first interaction with the DMV when they turn 16 to first get learners permits and drivers licenses. Paired with our existing Automatic Voter Registration at the DMV, this Amendment will bring more young people in to the electoral process earlier, and make them more likely to be voters throughout their lives. Finally, Secretary Merrill is again proposing to allow people on parole to vote, as people on probation are currently allowed. This will eliminate confusion about when electoral rights are restored, and help formerly incarcerated people reintegrate into the civic life of their community.
“Cybersecurity has become the defining issue of election administration post-2016, and Connecticut has been ahead of the curve,” said Merrill. “Despite our state being targeted, our cyberdefenses were successful in keeping out Russian hackers. In order to maintain the integrity of our elections and the faith and trust of Connecticut voters, we must continue to stay ahead of foreign bad actors who seek to interfere in our elections. These proposals renew our commitment to cybersecurity and protecting Connecticut’s elections and voters.”
The election security proposals include creating a cybersecurity position within the office of the Secretary of the State and increasing pre- and post- election testing and auditing of memory cards. Secretary Merrill is also proposing a solution to the issue in the state representative election in 2018 in Stratford by requiring a separate voting machine for each voting district within a polling place, and expanding the Safe At Home program and protecting the personal information of Connecticut voters.
Secretary Merrill is proposing modernizing Connecticut’s elections by creating a system for electronic signatures. This will allow online registrations independent of the DMV as the number of non-drivers increases, as well as allowing absentee ballots to be requested centrally and online, rather than physically in town hall. The Secretary is also proposing making the ballot more accessible to petitioning primary candidates, creating a centralized, online system for individuals who wish to circulate absentee ballot applications in multiple towns, and assigning election claims to the Hartford judicial district to streamline and expedite those claims. Finally, Secretary Merrill is proposing streamlining the process for Election Day Registration and requiring local election officials to provide their Election Day staffing plans to the Secretary’s office for approval at least 30 days prior to the election.
The proposals to improve Election Day administration include adjusting the deadline so the candidates in an election are set prior to the printing of the absentee ballots, ensuring uniformity in ballot design, and removing the antiquated and almost never used “challenger” designation from state law. In addition, the Secretary is proposing two studies, one to study the regionalization of election administration and another to study the practicality and desirability of ranked choice voting in Connecticut.
Early Voting Constitutional Amendment
To Prepare 16 Year Old Citizens for Voting Constitutional Amendment
AAC Ballot Access
AAC Ballot Design
AAC Election Administration
AAC Elections and Security
AAC Modern Elections
AAC Necessary Adjustments for Circulators of Nominating and Primary Petitions
AAC Ranked Voting for Elections
AAC Regionalism for Elections
AAC Voting Rights