Merrill Wants More Elections Authority

Feb 14, 2011

Last year’s gubernatorial election was notable for its election night drama – registrars for at least one big city didn't order enough ballots.  There’s now an effort before the legislature to give the state more control over ballots. On the night of the election, it fell to then Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz to tell reporters that something in Bridgeport had gone wrong.  “Unfortunately, election officials in the city of Bridgeport had ordered 21,000 ballots and this was significantly short of the 69,000 registered voters.” In the end, the trouble in Bridgeport delayed the election's final tally for days.  Now, new Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says it’s a situation she doesn’t want repeated. “I think the really tragic thing that happened is that people who should have been allowed to vote weren’t, and se we have to have some assurance that that won’t happen again.” Merrill wants state lawmakers to pass a bill that would require towns and cities to tell the state how many ballots they are buying.  It would also allow the state to direct those towns and cities to order more ballots.  If local registrars don’t want to certify their numbers to the state, the proposed law would allow the state to force them to order one ballot for every registered voter. "The biggest thing that came out of Bridgeport was the fact that the secretary of state’s office, even though I’m supposed to be the chief elections officer, we have little authority. I think we need a little more authority and oversight to keep everyone accountable.” Merrill says she expects some opposition from local registrars, but she also enjoys the support of legislators in both parties.