On Wednesday, CT Secretary of State Denise Merrill announced that after three terms, she will not run for re election in 2022.
Merrill, a Democrat, was previously a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives from the 54th General Assembly District for 17 years, representing the towns of Mansfield and Chaplin. First elected to the General Assembly in 1994, Merrill rose to the rank of House Majority Leader from 2009-2011.
In a statement Governor Lamont said, “Denise Merrill has undoubtedly left her mark on Connecticut and has been among the most vocal champions of voter rights in our state. At a time in history when some of her counterparts across the nation are working to enact provisions that block access to voting, she has worked tirelessly to ensure that every eligible adult has the ability to cast a ballot with ease and not need to jump through endless bureaucratic hoops to practice their democratic rights. As Connecticut’s voting laws evolve in the future making it easier for all of us to vote, I’ll be thinking of how Denise fought tirelessly for these changes.”
Merrill came into office in 2011 vowing to update and modernize the office with new technology and new ideas, make it easier for businesses to register and do business in the state, and easier for Connecticut citizens to register to vote by setting up online voter registration, Election Day Registration, and Automatic Voter Registration through the DMV, and now beyond.
“I am proud to say that we have done all that and more over this past decade,” she said.
In 2019, before the pandemic, Merrill launched a push for a Constitutional Amendment to allow Connecticut voters a minimum of three days of Early Voting, saying it would “take the pressure valve off of election day.”
For the November 2020 elections, Merrill oversaw the distribution of absentee ballots for all registered CT voters because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, Ms Merrill talked about hostile foreign powers seeking to affect the outcome of US elections.
“The world, and the world of election administration, changed dramatically during my time as Secretary. I was the President of the National Association of Secretaries of State in 2016 when the US Intelligence Community, speaking with one voice, warned that hostile foreign powers, particularly Russia, were seeking to affect the outcome of our elections. Overnight, election administration required a cybersecurity component, so we created the first in the nation state cybersecurity task force that incorporated local, state, and federal agencies.
“Connecticut committed to bolstering our cyber infrastructure – not just at the state level, but also for the registrars and town clerks in every town. Meanwhile it became clear that hostile foreign powers weren’t as concerned with hacking our voting technology as they were with hacking our minds. A well-documented campaign of misinformation was launched, designed to erode American’s trust in their elections – one that continues to this day.”
Merrill said that while she will not run again, she is not retiring.
“I will be lending my efforts to passing the constitutional amendments that will allow voters to vote by the method of their choice – by absentee ballot without needing an excuse, in-person before Election Day, or at their local polling places as Connecticut voters have been doing for more than 200 years.”
Ms Merrill is a graduate of the University of Connecticut. She is licensed to practice law in the state of California, and is a classically trained pianist.