Connecticut officials are confident that voter fraud at the scale President Donald Trump suggested last month did not occur during the presidential election.
Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill said Trump’s assertion that millions of illegal votes were cast was “without a shred of evidence” in a statement. In a joint press conference with Merrill on Jan. 27, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, D-New Haven, said Trump would be investigating “nonexistent mass voter fraud.” The president had tweeted that three million people voted illegally, in part by impersonating dead people, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the president would sign an executive action to launch an investigation into that alleged fraud.
“To claim, without a shred of evidence, that millions of ‘illegal votes’ were cast does nothing but undermine people’s confidence in democracy,” said Merrill in a statement. “Working to undercut the public’s faith in a free and fair vote is beyond irresponsible, it is frankly un-American.”
Since the presidential election, the State Elections Enforcement Commission in Connecticut has received 16 allegations of voter fraud from residents or registrars, according to spokesman Joshua Foley. He added that because investigation into all of the complaints is ongoing, he could not discuss the specifics of any of the of the allegations, and did not have a timeline for when the investigations would be complete. However, he said that none of the allegations involved voter impersonation, and the most common issues the commission handles concern absentee ballots and same-day registration.
Merrill cited a concern that Trump’s investigation could be used to lay the groundwork for an attack on voting rights, while DeLauro warned of the perils of repeating the United States’ history of voter suppression in her remarks.
“I am an original cosponsor of Rep. John Lewis’ Voter Empowerment Act. John Lewis is a hero of mine — no matter what attack our president throws at him,” said DeLauro in the press conference. “I am proud to stand with him on this issue. We must expand the right to vote in this country — not attack it. And we will hold our president accountable for the spread of misinformation.”
In 2014, Connecticut was rattled by a high-profile case of voter fraud in which state Rep. Christina Ayala was arrested on 19 counts of voter fraud, including voting in multiple districts. Ayala, who represented Bridgeport, pleaded guilty to two of the counts and received a suspended one-year sentence.
In the 2016 presidential election, close to 1.7 million people voted in Connecticut for a state turnout of close to 77 percent of registered voters.
In Connecticut, many first-time voters must present photo identification or a document that includes the voter’s name and address. If they cannot show either type of identification, they may cast a provisional ballot and provide identification after the election. All other voters may present a form of identification or sign a statement affirming they are who they claim to be.
Merrill has served as secretary since 2011. In Connecticut, the secretary serves a four-year term.