coronavirus in connecticut

Secretary of the State, Senator Murphy Lay Out Steps Taken to Protect Election Security

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NBC Connecticut

The Secretary of the State and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy held a news conference Thursday to discuss the November election and efforts to make sure foreign governments do not interfere.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said the state is making sure that the cities and towns are taking precautions, like dual authentication and password changes. An asset analysis was done of every town and they have secure systems, they and are running secure software and have training to manage systems.

Merrill said Connecticut was one of first 21 states identified where there was an attempted breach of the voter rolls in 2016 and it was unsuccessful. She said she has been in many security briefings with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and national security agencies and that has been invaluable.

"There is no doubt that the Russian government intends to try to rig the 2020 election just as they interfered in the 2016 election," Murphy said. "I am very worried that this administration is not taking seriously the threat of Russian interference and I'm beginning to be more and more worried that this White House is intentionally looking the other way because it knows the Russian government is ultimately looking to re-elect this president."

NBC News reported Wednesday that the United States Department of Homeland Security held up the distribution of an intelligence report, "  "Russia Likely to Denigrate Health of U.S. Candidates to Influence 2020 Election."

NBC News reports that the report, which is unclassified, mentioned efforts by Iran and China to criticize President Donald Trump on health issues, but it it focused on Russian-backed narratives about the mental health of former Vice President Joe Biden

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told NBC News that "President Trump will beat Joe Biden fair and square and we don’t need or want any foreign interference.”

Murphy, a Democrat, also said he wanted to make sure that voters seeking information are not hearing from foreign sources disguising themselves.

Merrill said they have also hired someone to work on misinformation about candidates, parties and Election Day itself.

"We are anticipating that there will not only be disinformation from these Russian adversaries about candidates and parties, it will also be aimed at trying to confuse voters about Election Day, for example. We've already seen some of that in previous elections," Merrill said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, dozens of states have expanded access to mail-in voting, which President Donald Trump has openly criticized.

Connecticut, for the first time, is allowing any voter who that wants to vote by absentee because of the pandemic. 

Merrill said there is an extensive process people need to go through to get an absentee ballot and each city and town keeps it own voter list. There are also steps to make sure that people do not vote twice.

The state is sending out absentee ballot applications to all 2.1 million registered voters and Merrill said they will be mailed next week.

“This year, and this year only, you can check the box that says I am worried about COVID- 19,” Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, said.

Len Besthoff takes a look at the process of voting by absentee ballot in Connecticut.

“You should get one in the mail.  If you don’t get one in the mail, you can get one from our website,” Merrill added.

The cities and towns will mail out the ballots.

If this is the way you choose to vote, fill out the absentee ballot application and send it back through aphysical drop box at your town hall or mail it.  

Merrill and Connecticut registrars said with all the questions about U.S. Postal Service issues, it’s best to use the drop box at town hall to drop off your absentee ballot application and eventually, your absentee ballot.

In March, Merrill and Connecticut’s Congressional delegation announced that the state would receive $5.4 million to enhance the safety of in-person voting in polling places, expand vote at home mail-in voting, and protect the security and integrity of the election and the counting of ballots, according to a news release from senator Murphy’s office.

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