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Politics Mar 30, 2011 - 8:21 PM

Election reform legislation endorsed

By Connecticut Secretary of the State's office

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Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today praised the Connecticut General Assembly’s Government Administration and Elections committee for unanimously endorsing Senate Bill 942 “An Act Concerning the Integrity of Elections.” Secretary Merrill proposed the bill in February to strengthen the integrity of Connecticut’s elections by requiring more communication and accountability between local Registrars of Voters, charged with the responsibility of running all elections, and the Secretary of the State’s office.

Under the proposed legislation, every municipality in the state would be required to either purchase enough ballots to cover 100% of registered voters, or report to the Secretary of the State’s office how many ballots they purchase for upcoming elections, certifying that the number of ballots ordered has taken into account factors such as tight races that may augment voter turnout. The Secretary of the State’s office would have the authority to review and in some cases reject these purchases if an insufficient number of ballots were ordered. Every town would also be required to have an emergency plan to address issues such as power outages and ballot shortages on Election Day. The measure has received bipartisan support and now moves on the full State Senate for consideration.

“I am grateful to the GAE Committee for closely examining these issues and throwing its full support behind some targeted, common-sense changes that I believe will go a long way towards ensuring the integrity of our elections,” said Secretary Merrill, Connecticut’s Chief elections Official. “No registered voter who wants to cast a ballot on Election Day should ever be turned away from the polls, and as Secretary of the State I am committed to working with local election officials to make sure that never happens again in Connecticut. All of us involved in elections need more information, training, emergency planning and oversight, and this bill addresses those needs. I appreciate the bi-partisan support we have received for these ideas thus far and I urge the Senate to approve this measure as soon as possible.”

The items contained in Senate Bill No. 942 “An Act Concerning the Integrity of Elections” include:

* Requirement that municipalities adopt emergency contingency plans for Election Day
* Requirement that municipalities report to Secretary of the State’s office the number of ballots ordered for each upcoming election, based on a review of prior turnout and other factors
* Secretary of the State’s Office would be allowed to direct municipalities to order more ballots if in sufficient number purchased for an Election.
* Municipalities that fail to report to the Secretary of the State’s Office would be required to order ballots for 100% of registered voters.
* Improved and enhanced training of moderators at the polls.
* Cities/Towns report lists of polling places and moderators to Secretary of the State before each election.
* Secretary of the State Authorized to enter polling locations on Election Day, remove a moderator with cause.

Another piece of Secretary Merrill’s election reform agenda, HJR 88, was previously approved by the GAE committee last week. HJR 88 is an amendment to the Connecticut Constitution that would remove the restrictions on Absentee Ballot voting and allow the General Assembly to enact some form of early voting in Connecticut.

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