Two days after President Donald Trump eliminated the position of cybersecurity coordinator on the National Security Council, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill convened the second meeting of the Elections Cybersecurity Task Force. At the very beginning of the meeting, Merrill reminded the task force that the election system faces several threats, including natural ones, like the tornadoes that touched down in the state last week and caused more damage than some hurricanes in several towns. She said they have emergency protocols in place for what happens if a polling place loses power, but are still putting plans together for emergencies that might not be as easily detected. “This will be the first statewide election following Russia’s attempt to interfere with our election infrastructure right here in Connecticut,” Merrill said.
Articles about voting issues in Connecticut.
The House spent about an hour Tuesday debating and then tabling a bill that would restore voting rights to parolees, who are still serving their sentences. The bill, which didn’t receive much attention this year, was a priority for the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus. A deal was brokered to let them debate the bill for a limit period of time, but it never got called for vote. “There is no harm in broadening civic engagement,” Rep. Brandon McGee, D-Hartford, said. He vowed to bring the bill back next year and win more support for the measure. He said they want to provide rights to individuals who are living and breathing in their communities.
Early voting will not occur in Connecticut before 2021, if ever, the House of Representatives determined Thursday. Only a simple majority of representatives approved of asking voters on the ballot whether Connecticut residents should be allowed to vote before election day. Many Republicans voiced concerns that creating more voting days would be expensive for town. Meanwhile, Democrats said the provision would allow more people to access the polls. … The simple majority means major hurdles are ahead before the state constitution could be amended to permit early voting.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill gathered federal, state and local officials for a meeting Monday to work on strengthening Connecticut’s election cybersecurity before ballots are cast in November. “2018 will be one of the most closely watched elections in our nation’s history,” said Merrill. “We are going to ensure through this task force the people in Connecticut know every vote will be counted, every voice will be heard.” Representatives from Department of Homeland Security, the National Guard, several state agencies, legislators and local election officials discussed how to block hackers and improve communications across the 169 towns running Connecticut’s elections.
A bill to restore the vote to thousands of Connecticut residents is getting a hearing Thursday in the General Assembly. The Government Administration and Elections Committee is hearing testimony on HB 5418. If passed the bill would give some 4,000 people who are in custody but have not been convicted of a crime access to ballots, and it would restore voting rights to another 3,000 who are on parole. According to Kennard Ray, chair of the Full Citizen Coalition to Unlock the Vote, the legislation would bring Connecticut’s voting rights laws into line with every other state in New England.
How to keep voter files safe from identity theft and other threats is the focus of two bills under consideration by the Government Administration and Elections Committee. The bills, which received a public hearing Monday at the Capitol, would limit who can obtain copies of voter rolls, what information they could access and what they can do with that information. They would also allow people with safety concerns or municipal police to opt out of having their information available on public voter rolls.
Marketing companies and other private entities would no longer be able to buy Connecticut’s state voter list for about $300 and use the data for solicitations and other purposes under new legislation being considered by state lawmakers this session. Instead, only political party committees, candidates, political action committees, journalists, academic researchers and governmental agencies could tap the cache of information, which includes full names, addresses, phone numbers, political affiliations and birth dates. The proposed change is being offered by Democratic Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, who also wants to prevent a voter’s full birthdate from being released.
In this age of cyber theft and Russian hackers breaking down digital firewalls from the other side of the globe, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill wants to make it harder to steal Connecticut voter identities. Merrill this year will ask the General Assembly to scrub voter birth dates from registration records, while giving people the option of requesting that their information be kept from public scrutiny. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday in her Capitol office, Merrill said that some hackers can glean enough information to threaten peoples’ identities, while others can sell voter lists – available for $300 – to marketers.
As advocates prepare efforts register hurricane-displaced Puerto Ricans to vote in the U.S. mainland, the chief elections officer in Connecticut is putting the weight of her office behind drives to sign up as many eligible newcomers as possible. Residents of the Caribbean island are U.S. citizens, but they are barred from voting for president unless they are registered in the U.S. mainland. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, a Democrat, said Wednesday that her office will work with local governments and community groups to identify and register those eligible to vote. She said registration is important for civic engagement and to give the newcomers a say in public affairs, including the federal government’s relief work on the island.
On election night earlier this month in Connecticut, the secretary of the state’s office unveiled a new system for towns to report vote totals. The “Election Management System” (EMS) is being applauded for delivering faster results to the public. The process begins in advance of the election with the town clerk entering the names of each candidate on the ballot into the new online EMS. The towns’ head moderator inputs the actual results after polls close. “All you have to type in on election night are the numbers themselves,” Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said. “It then uploads automatically to our website and so you, you the public, get the results in real-time — terrific improvement over how we were doing things before.”