Secretary Thomas Marks First 100 Days in Office, Highlights Legislative Priorities, Elections Work, and Civic Engagement Initiatives
(Hartford, CT) – Today, Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas marked her first 100 days in office, since she was sworn in on January 4, 2023. At a press conference earlier, Secretary Thomas highlighted her office’s legislative priorities, elections work and civic engagement initiatives.
“I’m proud of the scope of what my team has been able to accomplish in only 100 days,” said Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas. “The magnitude of what they have completed in this period is impressive. Because of their hard work, we have been able to make major headway towards increasing voter access, updating our voter registration systems, and implementing public awareness programs.”
“The first 100 days have been an incredible few weeks of collaboration across divisions in this office to best serve the people of Connecticut,” said Deputy Secretary Kozin. “Secretary Thomas has provided steady leadership to this Office, and the sheer output from this team is a testament to that.”
The Office of the Secretary of the State has completed operations including – responding to and resolving more than 23,000 business-related inquiries; digitized approximately 5 million business filing documents from microfilm and uploaded to the Business Registration System; met with nearly 40 national and statewide non-profit and grassroots organizations; and met one-on-one with more than two dozen Connecticut towns’ registrars and clerks and spoke in front of more than 300 registrars at the Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut 2023 Spring Conference.
Since taking office, Secretary Thomas has focused on supporting greater voting access for Connecticut’s citizens through no-excuse absentee voting and early voting; ramping up the Office’s community outreach and civic engagement programs; streamlining the office’s business services offerings and fortifying her Office’s relationships with the state’s registrars and town clerks.
“Our organization, as well as Connecticut’s voters, have already benefited greatly from the terrific working relationship we have built from Day One (and even before) with Secretary Thomas,” said Chris Prue, President of the Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut. “We look forward to continued collaboration with Secretary Thomas and her office. and we are eager to establish Connecticut as the leader in equitable, modern election systems for all citizens.”
“With her background in nonprofit management, Secretary Thomas knows the importance of engaging with organizations that have deep roots in communities and the value of bridging the divide that often exists between the public sector and those communities, particularly those who have been historically disenfranchised,” said Jennifer Barahona, CEO, Norwalk ACTS. “Secretary Thomas’ warmth and affability makes her incredibly approachable. She truly embodies what it means to be an elected official, someone there to serve and engage people.”
In her first 100 Days, Secretary Thomas has also added several key members to her staff, including Director of Outreach and Engagement Arienne Orozco. Orozco’s role is dedicated to promoting civic engagement and education throughout the state and identifying the challenges and working to resolve them. Orozco has spearheaded several outreach campaigns, including “ConneCT & Cut,” a public awareness initiative that features Secretary Thomas getting a haircut in local barbershops and hair salons around the state, while having a one-on-one discussion about issues relevant to voting, elections, and the role of elected officials.
Since January 4, the Legislative and Elections Division (LEAD) has administered four special elections and, in tandem with the IT department, completed the procurement process for a new Centralized Voter Registration System (CVRS) that will help Connecticut registrars and clerks to help make their processes more efficient. The LEAD team is integral in administering the state’s elections and serve as the liaisons between the Office of the Secretary of the State and local registrars and town clerks.
Secretary Thomas also noted that her work towards achieving expanded voting access and helping to secure financing for elections is not yet complete.
“While we continue to work towards legislative approval for the framework for early voting, I’m confident that we have laid a solid foundation for building a program that works for everyone,” said Secretary Thomas. “And, I want our cities and towns to know that my office has heard their concerns. We know there is still much more work to do.”
Secretary Thomas' First 100 Days in Detail
Over the course of 100 days in office, Secretary Thomas has:
• Met with nearly 40 national and statewide non-profit and grassroots organizations and their regional chapters, including: the League of Women Voters of Connecticut and their regional chapters; the Council of Small Towns; the UConn VoTeR Center; the Boy Scouts of America; the NAACP; the AARP; the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); the Boys & Girls Club of Milford;
• Attended the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) Winter Conference and met with nearly three dozen Secretaries of the State;
• Visited more than two dozen Connecticut towns and met with their mayors, registrars and clerks;
• Submitted and supported a bill to allow no-excuse absentee voting;
• Submitted and supported a bill to implement a 10-day early voting period;
• Advocated for 16-year-olds to pre-register to vote;
• Testified on more than 35 other bills and resolutions;
• Requested additional funding from the General Administration and Elections Committee’s Bonding subcommittee for new tabulator machines for all 169 municipalities to replace the current 25-year-old machines;
• Sworn in three new members of the Connecticut State House of Representatives; one new Connecticut Kid Governor; and the five members of the Kid Governor’s cabinet.
• Created the Director of Outreach and Engagement position, hiring Arienne Orozco, with the sole intention of promoting civic engagement and education throughout the state: identifying the challenges and working to resolve them;
• Walked door-to-door in downtown Bethel promoting the Special Election and asking business and public institutions (libraries, parks & rec offices etc.) to post Special Elections flyer;
• Filmed two (and more to come) “ConneCT & Cut” video series, focusing on barbershops and hair salons in an effort to dive deeper into the question of why people are or are not engaged in their community, and to discover barriers to voting in specific communities;
• Hosted three free family trivia events in “neutral” locations in the community (like public libraries and community centers) to broaden civic education reach to both adults and children;
In that same time period, the Office of the Secretary of the State has:
• Celebrated Women’s History Month with short videos of Deputy Secretary Kozin visiting the states historical markers of significant women in history;
• Launched “Lunch & Learn” events for the disabled and senior communities through partnerships with Disability Rights CT and other nonprofit organizations serving the disabled and senior communities. The events serve to remind individuals of their voting rights, how to interact with the ballot marking device, and understanding how to self-advocate at the polls;
• Produced a non-partisan flyer in English and Spanish promoting all Special Elections in February, and the importance of voting and distributed flyers to businesses and community organizations in election districts;
• Designed and distributed a pamphlet and one-sheet in English and Spanish to educate CT residents on general government topics, like the differences between local, state and federal government, and which officials work on various issues;
• Administered four special elections;
• Filed the 2022 Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS) report with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission;
• Presented at the 2023 ROVAC Spring Conference on early voting and the address confidentiality program;
• Completed the procurement process for the new CVRS, Election Management (EMS) and Election Night Reporting Systems;
• Digitized approximately 5 million business filing documents from microfilm and uploaded to the Business Registration System (BRS);
• Processed more than 5,700 Authentications and Apostilles;
• Processed more than 3,700 notary applications and renewals;
• Received and processed more than 13,500 new Connecticut business registrations;
• Received and certified 200,500 Limited Liability Corporation annual reports;
• Responded to and resolved more than 23,000 business-related phone and email inquiries;
• Had 20 employees reach at least 10 years or more of Service to the State.
The Office of the Secretary of the State is composed of several divisions:
• The Executive Division, which is responsible for the oversight of the individual units within the Office;
• The Legislative and Elections Administration Division, which administers, interprets and implements all state and federal laws pertaining to elections, primaries, nominating procedures, and the acquisition and exercise of voting rights;
• The Business Services Division, which files and maintains legally required records showing the formation of and fundamental changes to corporations, limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships, limited partnerships and other business entities;
• Information Technology, which is responsible for the administration, support, development and maintenance of all computer systems and related applications within the agency;
• Management Support Services, which supports the office in the areas of human resources, affirmative action, fiscal administration, business, revenue depositing, purchasing, data processing and other support services. It also publishes the Connecticut State Register and Manual (the “Blue Book”), maintains the interactive version on the agency website, and coordinates its distribution and sales.
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