Merrill pushes for authority over election ballot supply

Note: The General Administration and Elections Committee has taken up several election bills and concepts for this session. We are optimistic that some of the concepts will be developed and passed to provide increased election integrity.  Many of the bills taken up, often well intended, have unintended negative consequences. We are highlighting several of them to point out highlighting several of them to point out the good, the bad, and the unbelievable.

Just as we completed our last post and the note above, we see encouragement for our optimism that some concepts will improve election integrity:

From the Connecticut Post: Merrill pushes for authority over election ballot supply <read>

New Secretary of the State Denise Merrill wants the authority to require local registrars of voters to order more ballots should her office determine they have underestimated Election Day turnout.

Merrill’s bill, her response to the Nov. 2 ballot debacle in Bridgeport that delayed the declaration of a winner in the hotly contested governor’s race, was raised Friday by the Legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee.

The proposal will be formally drafted in the coming days and presented for a public hearing Feb. 14…

Merrill wants to require cities and towns to certify with her office the number of ballots ordered and any decisions to purchase less than one per registered voter. The Secretary of the State would then have 30 days to review and approve the plan or instruct registrars to order additional ballots.

“And if a town doesn’t feel they want to certify to us, then they would order 100 percent,” Merrill said.

The proposal has its supporters and critics:

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, through his spokesperson, said he had spoken with Merrill Friday morning and supported her proposal. Finch has appointed a special panel to review Bridgeport’s handling of the elections…

The measure got an immediate blast of disapproval from Anthony Esposito, president of the Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut and the Republican Registrar in Hamden.

“The registrars of voters are opposed to any statute that in any way, shape or form mandates how many ballots a town must order for any election or referendum,” he said…

Her proposal has the initial support of GAE Committee co-chair Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, and of Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield.

Although municipalities are always wary of the Legislature’s passing new mandates, Slossberg said, the changes would be meaningless unless the Secretary of the State has the authority to enforce them.

“What good does it do to alert somebody to a ballot shortage if they turn around and say, `This is our estimate. We’re not willing to go with yours’?” she asked.

Slossberg believes the public will embrace Merrill’s changes because voters prior to what happened in Bridgeport assumed “someone in the state has the authority to make sure they’re not disenfranchised. This is common sense.”

McKinney said Merrill spoke to him about her bill and he, too, agrees with the concepts but would like to see the final language. McKinney has continually said Bysiewicz bore some of the blame for what happened in Bridgeport.

“Secretary Merrill’s willingness to take control of this issue is a good sign,” he said.

This seems like a very workable and reasonable proposal. Much more realistic and less wasteful than blindly printing 100% every time. We also we look forward to seeing a full draft all the concepts and all of the changes they contain. We hope that this is not the only reform considered in the light of the problems in Bridgeport. The Audit Coalition has several recommendations in the hands of the Secretary of the State and the Government Administration and Elections Committee.


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