Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill
December 14, 2020

Secretary Merrill Presides Over Connecticut's 2020 Electoral College Vote

HARTFORD – Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today presided over the vote of the Electoral College. As the winner of Connecticut, the state’s seven electors cast ballots for Joe Biden for president and Kamala Harris for vice president.

“The vote of the Electoral College marks the ceremonial end of the 2020 election and is a part of the peaceful transfer of power that is the hallmark of our American democracy,” said Secretary Merrill. “In the face of a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic, everyone in Connecticut, from state government to local election officials to the ten thousand volunteers who stepped up to be democracy heroes, was able to work together and hold an election where every eligible voter was able to register and cast their ballot, without putting their health at risk. The registrars of voters, town clerks, moderators, poll workers, and all the volunteers in each town deserve our gratitude for all their hard work over the last nine months. And of course, thank you to the voters, a record number of whom cast their ballots and made their voices heard in 2020.”

The vote was held in the Senate chambers at the state Capitol at noon. Attendance was limited and social distancing protocols were followed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As set forth in the U.S. Constitution, the number of electoral votes is equal to the number of representatives in Congress. With two U.S. Senators and five members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Connecticut is awarded seven electoral votes.

A slate of seven electors were chosen by their political parties for election on November 3, 2020.

With 1,080,680 votes (or 59.24 percent) for the Biden/Harris ticket—versus 715,291 votes (39.21 percent) for Trump/ Pence—Connecticut voters elected the Democratic Party electors. The state’s seven electors are: Susan Barrett (Fairfield); John Kalamarides (Wilton); Dana Barcellos-Allen (Avon); William Smith (Hartford); Myrna Watanabe (Harwinton); Anthony Attanasio (Niantic), and Dominic F. Balletto Jr. (East Haven).

After the votes were cast, the ballots were wax-sealed by staff of the Secretary of the State’s office. They are then delivered to Congress, where a joint session of the House and Senate will take place on January 6, 2021 to officially count the ballots from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The midday ceremony was broadcast live on CT-N and featured the following guests in a virtual/socially distant setting and video compilation: the pledge of Allegiance by students from Danbury’s Alternative Center for Excellence, West Hartford’s Saint Thomas Apostle School, Darien’s Middlesex Middle School, and Waterbury’s H.S. Chase School; the National Anthem by UCONN’s Conn-Men A Cappella Group; America The Beautiful by vocalist and songwriter Nahla B. Ward; Lift Every Voice by State Troubadour Nekita Waller; instrumental contributions by musician Jenna Nome; as well as the Invocation by Bishop John Selders, ordained minister of the United Church of Christ and Organizing Pastor of Amistad United Church of Christ in Hartford. The Benediction was delivered by Pastor Liza Arulampalam of Riverfront Family Church and Church of Christ Congregational Newington.

Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill
November 24, 2020

Secretary of the State Merrill, Treasurer Wooden, and Comptroller Lembo Officially Certify Connecticut Election Results

Final tally shows statewide turnout of close to 80 percent

HARTFORD – Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, Treasurer Shawn Wooden, and Comptroller Kevin Lembo officially certified the results of the November 3 General Election for Presidential electors and the offices of United States Senator, Representatives in Congress, and Connecticut General Assembly. A record 1,861,086 people cast a ballot out of a record 2,334,979 registered voters, for an overall turnout of 79.7%.

“Despite a once-in-a-century pandemic and a major change to Connecticut’s election administration to allow every voter to vote by absentee ballot if they chose, Connecticut’s local election officials, poll workers, and volunteers came together to conduct an election with more votes cast than any election in Connecticut’s history,” said Secretary Merrill. “The smooth, trouble-free election is a testament to the hard work of Connecticut’s registrars, town clerks, and the tens of thousands of Connecticut citizens who stepped up to be democracy heroes and work at the polls on Election Day – conducting an election in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic would have been impossible without their efforts. With a record number of voters casting their ballots this year, it is clear that Connecticut voters appreciated their opportunity to make their voices heard!”

Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the Presidential vote in Connecticut. Democrats John Larson (CT-1), Joe Courtney (CT-2), Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), Jim Himes (CT-4), and Jahana Hayes (CT-5) were elected to Congress. In the Connecticut General Assembly, Democratic candidates were elected to 97 seats in the state House of Representatives and 24 seats in the state Senate. Republican candidates were elected to 54 seats in the House of Representatives and 12 seats in the state Senate.

A full Statement of the Vote including final vote tallies for candidates for President of the United States, Members of Congress, General Assembly, and Registrars of Voters by town, county, Congressional District, and Legislative District will be published by the beginning of the General Assembly’s 2021 legislative session in January. State law requires that the Secretary of the State, the State Treasurer, and the State Comptroller, must “declare what persons are elected” on the last Wednesday of the month of the election. Connecticut’s electors will meet on December 14 to cast Connecticut’s seven electoral votes.

Recent turnout by presidential election year:

2020: 1,861,086 (79.70 percent)

2016: 1,675,955 (76.94 percent)

2012: 1,560,640 (73.89 percent)

2008: 1,644,845 (78.14 percent)

2004: 1,607,808 (78.65 percent)

2000: 1,474,103 (77.54 percent)


Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill
December 3, 2020

Historic Number of Votes Cast by Absentee Ballot in the 2020 Election

More than 650,000 voters cast their vote by absentee ballot
93% of absentee ballots issued were returned
35% of ballots cast were absentee ballots
29% of registered voters returned absentee ballots
Absentee ballot rejection rate of less than 1% lowest in recent history

HARTFORD – Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today announced details of the historic number of absentee ballots cast in 2020.

“No voter should ever have to choose between protecting their health and casting their vote, and in Connecticut in the 2020 election, no voter was forced to make that choice. For the first time in Connecticut history, due to the COVID-19 crisis, every Connecticut voter was allowed to vote by absentee ballot if they chose to, and the response was overwhelming,” said Secretary Merrill. “ Connecticut voters clearly want options to make casting their ballots and making their voices heard more convenient. Allowing every voter to vote by absentee ballot in every election, as well as adding an option for Early Voting in-person, would make voting more convenient and make it easier for every registered voter to cast their ballot and choose the people who will represent them.”

2020 Absentee Ballots by the Numbers:

716,214 absentee ballots were requested and issued to voters

665,597 voters returned absentee ballots

92.93% of issued absentee ballots were returned

2,334,979 registered voters

28.50% of registered voters returned absentee ballots

1,861,086 votes cast

659,370 absentee ballot votes were counted

35.43% of votes cast were cast by absentee ballot

99.06% of returned absentee ballots were counted

0.94% of returned absentee ballots were rejected

The most likely reasons why an absentee ballot would be rejected is for lack of a signature on the inner envelope, lack of an inner envelope, enclosing more than one ballot in an inner envelope or more than one inner envelope in an outer envelope, or lack of an outer envelope. The absentee ballot rejection rate was 1.94% in 2018, 1.96% in 2016, 2.13% in 2014, and 2.11% in 2012. In 2020, Secretary Merrill used $600,000 in federal CARES Act funding and $2.1 million in third-party grant funding to educate Connecticut voters on the changes in the election due to COVID-19, including on how to cast a valid absentee ballot.

“When more voters vote by absentee ballot than in any other election in Connecticut history, but rejected absentee ballots are half as many as previous years, the message that every voter could participate by absentee ballot, and how to do it properly, clearly resonated with voters,” said Secretary Merrill. “This is a good illustration of the importance of federal and state investment in election infrastructure – if you build it, they will vote!”


Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill
November 19, 2020

General Election Results to be Audited at Selected Polling Locations

A hand count of ballots from five percent of all polling places that use optical scanners to be matched against machine totals, which will affirm the integrity of the vote

HARTFORD- Secretary of the State Denise Merrill randomly selected voting precincts to have primary results audited following the November 3 election. Five percent of the polling places that use optical scan machines are subject to the audit, as prescribed by Connecticut General Statutes 9-320f. Those hand counted ballots will be matched against vote totals from optical scan machines.

Secretary Merrill said, “Connecticut’s post-election audits are essential to ensuring the integrity of the vote. Thank you so much to the local election officials who worked so hard to make this process such a success and who conducted the election in a transparent, professional manner.”

There were 743 polling locations that used optical scan machines on November 3 so the Secretary of the State chose thirty eight primary and eleven alternate locations. The results of audits will be analyzed by the University of Connecticut, the Secretary of the State’s Office and the State Elections Enforcement Commission, and then be made available to the public. Connecticut boasts one of the strictest audit statutes in the country and was the first state in New England to require a comprehensive audit of primary results.

List of races to be audited:
  • The races to be audited will be selected locally by the Town Clerk.
List of polling places to be audited:
  • Plainfield- 2 Central Village Fire Station
  • Cheshire- Norton School – District 4
  • Cheshire- Chapman School – District 2
  • Granby- Granby Memorial High School – Community Gym
  • Newtown- Reed Intermediate School District 3-2
  • Trumbull- St. Joseph High School 123
  • Voluntown- Voluntown Elementary School
  • Waterbury- District 71-2 Gilmartin School
  • Stamford- Saint Bridget School District 6-1
  • Shelton- Long Hill School District 3
  • Waterbury- District 73-4 Sprague School
  • Wethersfield- Emerson Williams School
  • Windham- Dist 8 Elks
  • Somers- Town Hall
  • New Britain- Diloreto School
  • Killingly- Board of Ed Central Office – Cafeteria Dist 1
  • Stamford- Julia A. Stark School District 4
  • New Britain – Holmes Elementary School
  • Enfield – Enfield Senior Center District 158
  • Manchester – Bennet Academy
  • Bridgeport – Central High School District 129-3
  • Stratford – District 11-11 Lordship Elementary School 121 2
  • Norwalk – Kendall School District 140-1
  • Westport – District 136-2 Coleytown Elementary School Gym
  • New London – New London STM High School
  • Hartford – Hartford Seminary District 4
  • Stratford – District 60-1 Wooster Middle School 120 21
  • Plainville – Our Lady of Mercy Parish Hall
  • Deep River – Deep River Elementary School
  • Waterford – Oswegatchie School
  • Newington – John Wallace Middle School – District-8
  • Waterbury – District 72-3 Woodrow Wilson School
  • New Haven- John S. Martinez School District 16
  • New Haven – Main Library District 1-2
  • Norwich – Rose City Senior Center
  • Farmington – Community Center – District 2 Precinct 6
  • Waterbury – District 74-2 Crosby High School
  • West Haven – Washington School
  • Danbury – Westside Middle School Academy District 7-38
  • Norwalk- Fox Run School District 142-1
  • West Haven – Mackrille School
  • Montville – Mohegan Elementary School District 2
  • Brookfield – Huckleberry Hill School
  • Stratford – District 70-1 Wilcoxson School 120-21
  • Meriden – St. John Lutheran Church
  • Danbury – Pembroke School Gym District 2-8
  • Hartford – Parkville Community School District 13
  • Bristol – Bristol Elks Club
  • Danbury – Danbury High School Gym District 1-10

Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill
November 4, 2020

Secretary Merrill to Propose Constitutional Amendment to Allow Voters to Vote by Absentee Ballot Without an Excuse

Calls on the General Assembly to pass the amendment with a supermajority so voters can decide in the next election

HARTFORD – Connecticut Secretary of the Denise Merrill today announced that she will again be proposing an amendment to the Connecticut Constitution that allows Connecticut voters to choose to vote by absentee ballot without an excuse. 44 states currently allow their voters to conveniently vote prior to election day either through in-person Early Voting or No-Excuse Absentee Balloting or both. Only Connecticut, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Missouri require their voters to vote in-person on Election Day unless they have a statutorily defined excuse.

“As our local election officials are working hard to complete the counting of an historic number of absentee ballots, one result is absolutely clear – the voters of Connecticut want to be able to vote conveniently by absentee ballot without an excuse,” said Secretary Merrill. “Connecticut voters have spoken and they want options that make voting more convenient for them, just like voters across the country have. The availability of absentee ballots allowed more than 650,000 people to safely and conveniently cast their ballots, and helped to drive what will ultimately be among the highest turnout elections in Connecticut history. This election proved that, even under the most difficult circumstances imaginable, allowing Connecticut voters to choose to vote by absentee ballot can be a success, and voters are telling us that they want that option. I will be fighting to ensure that they have it.”

There is a Constitutional Amendment to allow Early Voting that passed the legislature in 2019 but, as it did not pass with a three-quarters majority in each chamber, it must come back to the legislature after the next legislature is seated. If it passes again, it would be on the ballot for voters to decide in 2022.

A Constitutional Amendment to allow No-Excuse Absentee Balloting would be starting from the beginning: if it passed each chamber of the General Assembly with a three-quarters majority it would go to the voters in 2022; if it passed each chamber with a simple majority it would come back to the legislature seated in 2023 and if it passed each chamber again the voters could decide in a referendum on the 2024 ballot.

“More than 650,000 voters cast an absentee ballot in 2020 – the people have spoken. Now that voters have been able to vote by absentee ballot if they choose, it is manifestly unfair to tell them they cannot vote the way they wish in the future,” said Secretary Merrill. “The legislature should pass this Constitutional Amendment this year, and with a 75% supermajority so voters can have their say in the next election. Voters should be allowed to decide for themselves if they would like more options to vote, as voters have in the vast majority of other states. Connecticut voters should not have to wait years to make it easier for them to cast their votes and make their voices heard.”


Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill
October 29, 2020

Secretary Merrill Announces Record-Breaking Voter Registration in Connecticut

More than 2.3 million voters are registered to vote in advance of the 2020 election

More than 700,000 new registrations have been recorded since 2016, compared to 450,000 from 2012-2016, and 250,000 from 2008 to 2012

HARTFORD – Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today announced record-breaking voter registration numbers for Connecticut in advance of Election Day on November 3.

“It is so exciting to see a record-breaking number of Connecticut voters, especially younger voters, set to make their voices heard on Tuesday,” said Secretary Merrill. “We are poised to see the largest number of voters participating in a Connecticut election ever, despite the 2020 election being held under the most challenging circumstances in a century. I hope to see every registered voter participating on Tuesday, and don’t forget that it is not too late to register and vote at the Election Day Registration location in your town on Election Day!”

There are now 2,308,177 active, registered voters in Connecticut:

Party Active Registered Voters

Democratic Party 850,046

Republican Party 480,026

Unaffiliated Voters 939,679

Other parties 38,426

Total 2,308,177

New registrations in this presidential cycle have far outstripped new registrations in previous presidential cycles. From 2016 to 2020, 729,811 new voters registered, compared to 458,166 from 2012 to 2016 and 251,461 from 2008 to 2012.

Young voters in particular have registered to vote in greater numbers. From 2016 to 2020, 185,391 new voters aged 18-24 registered, compared to 125,497 voters aged 18-24 from 2012 to 2016 and 78,156 voters aged 18-24 from 2008 to 2012.

Voters can check their registration status, find their polling place, or see if their absentee ballot has been delivered at

Eligible voters who have not yet registered to vote can still to so on Election Day in the Election Day Registration location in their town. The Election Day Registration locations can be found at More information on Election Day Registration can be found at

In order to register on Election Day, a potential voter must provide their birth certificate, driver's license, passport, or Social Security card, or in the case of college and university students a current photo identification issued by their higher education institution. If the potential voter’s identification does not also include proof of their residential address, he or she must also submit another form of identification showing their residential address in the municipality. The additional identification may include, but is not limited to, a motor vehicle learner's permit, a utility bill due no later than 30 days after the election, for a college or university student a current college or university registration or fee statement, a lease, a library card with residential address, a paycheck, a property tax bill, naturalization documents, or other satisfactory proof of residence.
Eligibility requirements can be found here:

Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill
September 8, 2020

Secretary Merrill Announces More than $2.3 Million in Election Grants to Support Local Election Officials in 2020

Absentee Ballot Support Grant to Give Town Clerks the Resources Necessary for Unprecedented Amount of Absentee Ballots - $1,446,693

Safe Polls Grant to Ensure Safe Polling Places - $865,500

Election Day Registration Access Grant to Help Registrars Handle Increased Election Day Registration Volume - $50,000

Total Aid for the 2020 Primary and General Election Totals Close to $10 Million

HARTFORD - Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today announced more than $2,300,000 in three election grants directly to Connecticut's 169 towns for the 2020 general election, bringing total aid for the 2020 election to almost $10,000,000. This aid comes from three tranches of federal grant money, CARES Act, HAVA I, and HAVA II, that were earmarked for making polling places safe, securing election cybersecurity infrastructure, and expanding access to absentee ballots.

"The 2020 election is happening under circumstances that were unthinkable just eight months ago, and my office and registrars of voters and town clerks across the state are working hard to ensure that every Connecticut voter is able to safely cast their vote without jeopardizing their health," said Secretary Merrill. "This unprecedented effort to ensure that the 2020 election is safe, secure, and accessible to every voter has ensured that absentee ballots are available to every voter who wants one, polling places are safe for voters who choose to vote in person and for poll workers, and our elections are protected against the ongoing threat of foreign interference."

The Absentee Ballot Support Grant is given to the towns so that town clerks have the resources to process, mail out, and count a record-breaking number of absentee ballots. 2020 is the first election in Connecticut history where every voter is able to vote by absentee ballot if they choose to do so. The grant assumes that 80% of registered voters will chose to vote in 2020, and that 66% of those voters will choose to vote by absentee ballot, and grants towns $1 for each voter through the 10,000th projected voter and $2 for each additional voter more than 10,000. Should more voters cast absentee ballots than projected, towns will receive additional grant money in the same amounts. The Absentee Ballot Support Grant projects more than 1.1 million votes cast by absentee ballots, for a total grant amount of $1,446,693. This is in addition to the $2 million dollars spent on printing and postage for the absentee ballot applications and ballots in the primary, the $2.1 million on printing and postage for the absentee ballot applications for the general, the $500,000 for Secure Ballot Drop Boxes, and the $1.1 million on postage for the absentee ballot packages and completed ballots for the general.

"The nature of COVID-19 as a contagious virus that passes through direct person-to-person contact necessitated expanding access to absentee ballots so no voter had to choose between their health and their right to vote," said Secretary Merrill. "The $1.4 million Absentee Ballot Support Grant is designed to give Connecticut's 169 town clerks the resources they need to make sure every one of their constituents is able to vote by absentee ballot in November if they so choose. Although ensuring that every voter will be able to participate in our democracy in the face of a global pandemic will be incredibly difficult, my office is able to leverage federal grant money to ensure that every town is able to provide for every one of their voters."

The Safe Polls Grant is given to the towns to ensure that polling places are safe for voters and poll workers alike. Although voters can choose to vote by absentee ballot, Connecticut's polling places will be open on Tuesday November 3rd. The Safe Polls Grant gives towns $1,000 per polling place, with a minimum of $2,500 per town. The total grant amount is $865,500. This grant is in addition to the more than $500,000 expended for the Safe Polls Grant for the primary, providing PPEs to each of Connecticut's 750 polling places in the primary and the general, and deep cleaning services.

"Voters who choose to vote in person, and the poll workers who help them, also need a healthy environment in which to vote," said Secretary Merrill. "The Safe Polls Grant is critical to ensure that every polling place has the protective equipment and cleaning supplies necessary to keep voters and poll workers safe."

The Election Day Registration Access Grant is given to the top twenty towns in terms of number of Election Day registrants in order to be prepared for a potential surge in new voters registering to vote on Election Day. Most of the towns included in this grant historically have larger number of Election Day registrants, and are cities whose citizens may be more mobile, towns that host large universities, or both. Each of the twenty towns is granted $2,500 and the total grant amount is $50,000.

"Part of making sure that every voter is able to conveniently register and easily vote is making sure that every town has the resources they need to smoothly register voters on Election Day," said Secretary Merrill. "The Election Day Registration Access Grant recognizes that towns with highly mobile populations and towns that host large universities have greater need for resources devoted to registering voters on Election Day."

The Office of the Secretary of the State is also focused on protecting Connecticut's election cybersecurity infrastructure from foreign interference by helping towns to strengthen their local election infrastructure. Towns were offered $200,000 in 50/50 matching grants to replace outdated equipment, $350,000 in Cybersecurity Risk Assessments by the Connecticut National Guard, and the Secure Polls Grant of $220,000 conditioned on completing cybersecurity training and risk assessments by the Connecticut National Guard.

"Even as we are properly focused on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, threats to our election cybersecurity from Russia and other hostile foreign actors have continued," said Secretary Merrill. "From my office, to the state's Information Technology team, to the Connecticut National Guard, to local election officials in each town, Connecticut is committed to ensuring that our elections are free and fair, and that every valid vote cast is a vote counted."

All towns should receive their Safe Polls Grants for the primary election by the end of this week. The Safe Polls Grants for the general election, the Absentee Ballot Support Grants, and the Election Day Registration Access Grants will be sent to towns beginning next week.

Town Aid for 2020 General Election


Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill
May 4, 2020

Secretary Merrill Releases Connecticut's Election Plan in the Face of COVID-19

Federal funding allowed Secretary Merrill to develop a plan that ensures Connecticut’s elections will be safe, secure, and accessible for all voters

HARTFORD – Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today released the Connecticut plan for the August 11 primary and November 3 general elections in 2020 in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. COVID-19, as a virus that passes via direct person-to-person contact, often from asymptomatic people, is a global pandemic that creates particular challenges for election administration. The plan is attached and can be found at

"No Connecticut voter should ever have to choose between their health and their right to vote," said Secretary Merrill. "This plan is designed to ensure that Connecticut's elections will be safe, secure, and accessible to every eligible voter who wants to participate. Connecticut's elections must go on, so I urge everyone who can to participate."
"As local election officials, our most important job is to make sure that every eligible Connecticut voter that wants to vote is able to cast their ballot," said Westport Registrar of Voters Marla Cowden. "Secretary Merrill's plan protects our democracy by allowing voters the opportunity to cast their ballots without the fear of putting their health at risk."

The Office of the Secretary of the State, following guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control, will work with the municipalities to give them the resources they need to make in-person voting as safe as it can possibly be, even in the face of a pandemic. This includes approving towns' plans for polling place locations and layouts, staffing levels, emergency plans, and cleaning and safety materials needed. The Office, through the Safe Polls grant program, will be able to provide the resources necessary to secure the cleaning and safety equipment, as well as cleaning the polling places themselves and hiring additional poll workers, that will keep our voters and our poll workers safe. The Office will also be able to help the towns recruit and train poll workers for Election Day. Finally, it is important that voters know what measures their state and local election administrators have taken to protect their safety, so the Office will conduct a Safe Polls public education campaign to make sure that voters trust the safety of their polling places.

"Connecticut voters have been making their voices heard in-person, in their local polling places for more than 200 years, and for many voters that won't change in 2020," said Secretary Merrill. "That's why I am committed to working with our partners at the local level to ensure that our polling places are following the most up-to-date health guidelines, and are clean and safe for every voter and every poll worker."

The Office of the Secretary is also going to leverage cybersecurity funding to protect our elections from malicious actors at both the state and local levels. Working with the Office of the Secretary, the Connecticut National Guard will perform a high-level cybersecurity assessment of the election infrastructure of each of Connecticut's 169 towns. The Office has identified approximately 20 towns that have had chronic connectivity issues to the state's election infrastructure, and will be providing network upgrades in theses towns to prevent potential security risks. The Office is also instituting a grant program whereby the Office will pay for 50% of the upgrade when towns commit to replacing outdated hardware and software, and is supporting our towns with more online certification and security training, a dedicated trainer, and Election Support Officers to serve as field support on a regional basis. Also at the local level, the Office has successfully piloted and will be rolling out statewide a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure to increase security at the local access point to the Central Voter Registration System (CVRS), the backbone of Connecticut's election administration system.

Over the past year, the Office has significantly upgraded the security of the CVRS by instituting complex password and dual-factor authentication requirements. As one of the first centralized voter registration databases in the country, Connecticut's CVRS is nearing the end of its useful and secure life, and requires a comprehensive upgrade in the near future. The Office has begun planning for CVRS' eventual replacement and will begin implementation at the end of the 2020 cycle. In the near term, due to the complexity of the legacy code, the Office has frozen that code in place for the 2020 election cycle to prevent the creation of security risks.

"Since the Russians attempted to interfere in our election in 2016, cybersecurity has become one of our highest priorities," said Secretary Merrill. "All the information we have received from the federal intelligence community indicates that various malicious actors are still seeking to disrupt our elections, but Connecticut is partnering with federal, state, and local officials to make our cybersecurity as strong as it can be, and our elections among the most secure in the country."

The circumstances of the current pandemic make physically appearing in a polling place difficult or impossible for many voters. In an effort to ensure that every eligible voter who wants to cast a ballot is able to do so, the Office of the Secretary, contracting with a mail house, will be sending applications for absentee ballots to every registered voter in the state, and including postage paid return for those applications. After processing at the local level, those voters who request absentee ballots will be delivered ballots via the mail house, and the cost of both the mailing and return of the absentee ballot will be borne by the Office of the Secretary of the State. The Office is also providing the the towns with the resources necessary to deal with the anticipated increase in absentee ballots, including providing every town with secure dropboxes and offering a grant program that can be used to defray additional costs and personnel related to a larger number of absentee ballots. This plan will allow a larger number of voters to vote by absentee ballot than ever before, and do it at no cost to the towns or the voters.

"We are facing an illness without precedent in our lifetimes and our election system has to adapt to meet its challenge," said Secretary Merrill. "By making sure that every voter who needs an absentee ballot is able to get one without cost to the voter or to their town, we are safeguarding Connecticut voters' ability to participate in choosing their government. And make no mistake – fear of the coronavirus will guarantee that we will be seeing a higher volume of absentee ballots in 2020 whether we like it or not."

In both 2016 and 2018, the towns with highest total number of absentee ballots were Greenwich, Fairfield, Norwalk, Stamford, and West Hartford, and the towns with highest percentage of absentee ballots cast were Canaan, Roxbury, Salisbury, Sharon, Washington, Wesport, and Weston.

The plan relies on funding from the recently passed CARES Act specifically earmarked to making polling places safer and expanding accessibility to voting by mail, as well as additional appropriations made to protect the cybersecurity and integrity of elections from the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

"This plan was only possible through the hard work of our federal delegation in securing federal funding in the CARES Act and in appropriating additional funding from HAVA," said Secretary Merrill. "They recognize that our citizen's voice is their vote, and have made sure that our voters' voices will be heard."

"Access to the ballot box is a fundamental right of every American citizen," said Connecticut’s Congressional Delegation. "During this pandemic it is vital that states take steps to ensure that everyone can cast their vote in a manner consistent with health and social distancing guidelines. With the assistance of funding from the CARES Act and under Secretary Merrill’s bold leadership, Connecticut is taking the lead to ensure our state residents can safely vote in upcoming elections."

The plan is attached and can be found at


Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill
May 6, 2020

Statement of Secretary of the State Denise Merrill on her Official Interpretation of Connecticut's Existing Absentee Ballot Statute

HARTFORD The official interpretation of Connecticut General Statutes 9-135, Connecticut's absentee ballot statute, that was today sent to local election officials from the Office of the Secretary of the State is linked here.

"No Connecticut voter should be forced to choose between their health and their right to vote," said Secretary Merrill. "The coronavirus pandemic has created unique challenges for election administration, and this interpretation of the law will allow the maximum number of Connecticut voters to use their illness as an excuse under the existing statute because of the specific nature of the coronavirus."

The official interpretation of the statute, made with review of guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control, issued under the Secretary of the State's authority in CGS 9-3 to interpret Title 9, allows voters with underlying risk factors relevant to COVID-19 to request and receive an absentee ballot using the "his or her illness" reason found in 9-135. Secretary Merrill previously announced that all voters will be receiving applications for absentee ballots; those applications will explain the law in light of this interpretation of 9-135. As previously announced, the Office of the Secretary will pay for the postage for the applications, their return, the ballots, and the ballots' return, so that absentee ballots can be used without cost to the voters or the towns.

"Connecticut has the most restrictive absentee ballot laws in the country, and the coronavirus has exposed how that restrictiveness can threaten our democracy," said Secretary Merrill. "The legislature can and should fix this permanently when they come into session in the summer by removing the most restrictive language from the statute."

Secretary Merrill previously published an op-ed calling for the legislature to act that can be found here:

Governor Ned Lamont
May 20, 2020

Governor Lamont Signs Executive Order Allowing All Eligible Connecticut Residents to Vote Absentee in August 11 Primary Elections

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he has signed an executive order allowing all registered voters in Connecticut to vote absentee in the August 11, 2020 primary elections.

Current state law authorizes the use of an absentee ballot for six reasons, including a voter’s active service in the Armed Forces; absence from town during all of the hours of voting; own illness; religious beliefs; duties as an election official; and physical disability. Governor Lamont said that as the highly contagious virus continues to spread and nearly 3,500 people in the state who have contracted the disease have died within the last two months, it is critical that state government make reasonable adjustments that reflect the current state of emergency while ensuring that the democratic process continues safely and securely.

“Nobody should need to make a decision between their health and their right to vote,” Governor Lamont said. “Our state has taken every responsible step to this point to ensure that our residents are safe, and the next step we must take is to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 when Connecticut residents cast their ballots. We must guarantee access to the ballot, and this is a way to do that during these extraordinary circumstances. I do not take this decision lightly, and it is with the public health and welfare of residents in mind.”

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has announced that she intends to mail every registered voter in the state an application they will need to fill out and return in order to obtain an absentee ballot. That application, which will be sent via U.S. Postal Service, will include a postage paid return envelope. After processing the applications at the local level, all voters who requested an absentee ballot will receive the ballots in the mail, which will also include a postage paid return envelope. Each town will also have a secure dropbox in a prominent location to allow voters to deliver their absentee ballots in person without close personal contact.

Connecticut’s 2020 presidential primary was initially scheduled to be held on April 28, but to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, Governor Lamont signed executive orders rescheduling it, first to June 2 and then to August 11, the same date that the state was already scheduled to hold primaries for other federal, state, and local offices. Moving the presidential primary to this date enables the primary for president to appear on the same ballot as those for other offices, and eliminates the need for the state to hold two separate primary elections.