Secretary of the State Merrill Announces Resignation
HARTFORD – Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced on Wednesday that she will be resigning her position due to a medical issue in her family, effective at 12:00 pm, on Thursday, June 30th.
“It is after long and serious consideration, and with a heavy heart, that I have decided to resign my office as Secretary of the State at the end of this month. My family’s health, and in particular my husband’s diagnosis of a degenerative disease, requires my full attention at this time, and cannot wait the six months left to finish out my term,” Merrill said.
Secretary Merrill, who proudly represented Mansfield in the Connecticut House of Representatives for almost twenty years, was elected as Connecticut’s Secretary of the State in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014 and 2018. She was Secretary for Connecticut’s most consequential and challenging elections, including the October snowstorm and Hurricane Sandy, attempted foreign interference in 2016, and COVID-19 in 2020.
“It has been the honor of my life to serve the citizens of Connecticut for almost three decades – first as State Representative from Mansfield, and then three terms as Secretary of the State. I thank the citizens of Connecticut for the deep and continued support they have given me, the hard-working registrars of voters, town clerks, moderators, and poll workers who make Connecticut’s elections possible. I want to thank the staff of the Office of the Secretary of the State for their commitment to ensuring free and fair elections and efficient business filings, the Governor for his partnership and friendship, and my many colleagues in the General Assembly who have been my brothers and sisters over many years of service to Connecticut.”
Secretary Merrill is a leader in making voter registration and casting a ballot more convenient and obstacle-free for every eligible Connecticut citizen. She instituted, administratively, legislatively, and in some cases both, Online Voter Registration, Election Day Registration, Automatic Voter Registration through the DMV, restoring voting rights to parolees, and has started the office on the path to expanding Automatic Voter Registration at other state agencies that qualify as Voter Registration Agencies under the National Voter Registration Act.
Secretary Merrill also fought to put Constitutional Amendments on the ballot to allow Early Voting (2022) and Universal Access to Absentee Ballots (2024), as well as implementing secure absentee ballot drop boxes and accessible voting machines in every town, online absentee ballot applications, and normalizing the language of the absentee ballot statute with the absentee ballot language of the Connecticut Constitution to allow more people the ability to vote by absentee ballot if they so choose. She also has devoted herself to safeguarding the integrity and transparency of Connecticut’s free and fair elections through professionalizing training and accountability for local election officials, joining ERIC to share voter registration information with more than 30 other states to help clean our voter rolls, implemented online election night reporting, and created a partnership with the Connecticut Bar Association to allow trained, neutral representatives of the Office of the Secretary to enter polling places and ensure compliance with election law.
Secretary Merrill has also streamlined business filings, digitized records, improved the business search functionality, and worked with Governor Ned Lamont to launch business.ct.gov, all in an effort to make it easier for businesses to start and expand in Connecticut. Taken together with the changes in the election division, as well as moving promulgation of state regulations and applications for notary licenses online. Merrill has overseen a dramatic shift in the technologization of the Office of the Secretary of the State.
Finally, Secretary Merrill has brought her lifelong passion for civic engagement to the Office of the Secretary of the State. By creating and distributing an election-related curriculum to teachers, partnering with the Department of Education and other public and private groups on creating and/or supporting Red, White, and Blue Schools, Connecticut Civic Ambassadors, and Connecticut Kid Governor, Merrill has demonstrated a commitment to ensuring that our students learn how their government works, how they can get involved, and how they can help connect their communities to Connecticut’s civic life.
Secretary Merrill is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, is licensed to practice law in the state of California, and is a classically trained pianist. She lives in Mansfield, and her family includes her husband Dr. Stephen Leach, and his two sons, her three children, and six grandchildren.