Merrill Defends Absentee Ballot Process

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Connecticut is the land of steady habits so it goes without saying that people would have questions about the new absentee ballot process.  

For the first time ever, the Secretary of the State Denise Merrill mailed out absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in the state. For some, it's caused confusion and concern. 

“We do have a lot of examples that have some came back recently of people who have never lived at an address or have moved out six years ago,” Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano said. 

Republicans don’t believe the voter rolls in Connecticut are as clean as Merrill believed when she sent out absentee voter applications to voters registered with one of the two major parties for the Aug. 11 primary. 

But that’s not part of Merrill’s job since elections are controlled by local registrars.

“It’s very damaging. That’s what’s upsetting to me,” Merrill said. “These people are questioning our democracy in a situation where we have checks and balances like almost no other state.” 

Fasano said the secretary of the state has an obligation to be on the front line if these lists are not being purged by the local registrar of voters. 

“Connecticut doesn’t do a lot of absentee ballots,” Merrill said. “In a normal election we’ll have maybe 8% or something voting by absentee. And there will be a lot more because we are in a crisis and people are scared.” 

Cheri Quickmire of Common Cause said this is not a partisan issue. 

“This is an issue of lawmakers and the administration being concerned that folks are able to vote safely,” Quickmire said. “That there is no concern anyone will be infected as they stand in line or stand across the table.” 

Quickmire and Good Government Groups want the General Assembly to change the law to allow for no-excuse absentee ballots in November and beyond. 

The other concern is for the ballot boxes outside town halls. 

“If someone were to throw some chemical in there or something to destroy the ballots. I don’t know how you deal with that issue,” Fasano said. 

Quickmire said it’s not a concern. 

“The vast majority of elected officials seem, seem confident that their voters want to be able to have this option,” Quickmire said. 

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