Secretary Merrill to Hold NASS Medallion Award Ceremony for Outstanding Service During 2020 Elections
HARTFORD – Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill awarded the NASS Medallion Awards today to recognize those who have demonstrated outstanding service and dedication to furthering the mission of National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) with respect to elections, voter and civic education, service to state government, or commitment to giving.
Recipients of the awards are Mike Corey of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) for his assistance in recruiting thousands of new poll workers; Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) Commissioner Sibongile Magubane for her contributions through the implementation of automatic voter registration; the Connecticut National Guard for fortifying cybersecurity efforts; and the host of the radio show Hablando en Serio Felix Viera for empowering and educating Latino voters about elections.
“It truly takes a village to make an election a success, and there is so much to be said about these democracy heroes who helped make it happen,” said Secretary Merrill. “It is an honor for me to present the NASS Medallion Awards to these outstanding recipients because I can rest assured that our democracy is in the hands of people who are on the ground, committed, and unrelenting in the fight to better our community.”
Mike Corey (VOAD) designed an online system where people could volunteer to be a poll worker, resulting in approximately 5,000 signups through that system. His platform became a model for the states of Maryland and New Jersey to build their own systems, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency also featured Corey’s work on a national-level volunteer management call showcasing best practices.
“Connecticut VOAD considers it an honor and privilege to have worked with the Secretary of the State's office in recruiting and vetting volunteers to support the elections,” said Mike Corey. “Our member organizations’ volunteers typically respond to disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes, however this effort, like much of 2020, has found us adapting to meet new needs for Connecticut as we respond to and recover from the COVID pandemic. We appreciate this recognition and are thankful to our volunteers who helped make this mission a success.”
The Automatic Voter Registration project spanned several years under different gubernatorial administrations and under multiple DMV commissioners before being fully implemented in 2020. Through the DMV’s Automatic Voter Registration system, there have been 603,026 total new registration requests, and 757,241 total address change requests since its initial launch in August 2016.
“I am deeply honored to receive this prestigious award for improving the voter registration process at DMV,” said DMV Commissioner Sibongile Magubane. “Voting is an important responsibility and an integral part of any democracy. As a convenience, DMV customers can easily register to vote while completing their licensing transaction either in-person or online.”
The Connecticut National Guard played a major role in strengthening elections cybersecurity during the 2020 elections by conducting training and risk assessments, helping to protect Connecticut’s elections from foreign interference by working with towns to strengthen their local election cyberinfrastructure.
“This mission gave the Connecticut National Guard an opportunity to help meet a need in our state, provide a tremendously valuable service, and continue to make an impact in the communities we serve,” said Maj. Gen. Francis Evon. “The Joint Cyber Response Team again proved to be a rich, value-added, capability for Connecticut, employing IT professionals on a part-time, as needed basis, to tackle some of the most pressing cybersecurity challenges we face.”
Radio show host Felix Viera has been on the radio for a total of 25 years, providing civic education and encouraging people in the Hispanic community to register to vote and participate in the democratic process.
“For the 2020 election we spent more than a year bringing information, one hour a day, five days a week in my Hablando en Serio program in which Denise and Lourdes Montalvo participated in many interviews,” said Felix Viera. “We also had PSAs in Spanish educating the Hispanic community of the importance of registering and voting.”
The NASS Medallion Award allows individual Secretaries of State to recognize outstanding service and dedication to furthering the mission of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) within each state.
The NASS Medallion Award was created to honor individuals, groups or organizations with an established record of promoting the goals of NASS in one or more of the following areas: Elections, with special emphasis on voter education and participation; civic education, including the teaching, promotion and study of this subject; service to state government, specifically as it relates to the duties of the office of the Secretary of the State; a commitment to giving – a business or individual whose philanthropic contributions have significantly enhanced the quality of life in a local or regional area within a state, or within an entire state.