The ability to use more technology, Election Day registration and increased outreach are what Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill called “modest first steps” to addressing the crisis of poor voter turnout numbers. In an appearance at Town Hall last Thursday, Feb. 2, Ms. Merrill discussed election issues and looked ahead to what can be done to get more people educated and motivated to vote. The Greenwich League of Women Voters invited Ms. Merrill to speak so residents could hear about the latest initiatives coming out of her office. She discussed the impacts of technology and where she sees voting trends going in years to come.
“This has emerged, for me, as the biggest concern,” Ms. Merrill said. “We have really a 20th century or maybe a 19th century election system. Everything is still paper. We don’t spend much money on it. We hire poll workers in hundreds and hundreds of precincts, which in my opinion is far too many, to do work on Election Day, many of whom are very elderly because, basically, who you can get to work all day that doesn’t have something else to do on a Tuesday for very, very little money. Many of the poll workers do it for love of the system. They do it because they want to help. It’s a very creaky system frankly and there are lots of questions about if standards are uniformly enforced across all precincts. It’s a concern we all share.”
Ms. Merrill said new technology can not only make voter counts more accurate, but less expensive as well. That will require an investment in election infrastructure and Ms. Merrill said that hasn’t happened in more than a decade on the federal level.