City | 10:55 am | January 17, 2012 | By Nick Defiesta

Malloy, Merrill roll out election reforms

The Connecticut State Capitol.
The Connecticut State Capitol. Photo by Creative Commons.

Whether you want to vote for Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich or even President Barack Obama come November, it could all be a lot easier, thanks to legislation introduced this week by Gov. Dannel Malloy and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

Malloy and Merrill held a press conference Monday to announce their support for various proposals to increase voter registration, CT Mirror reported. At the conference, Merrill announced she will prepare a package of legislation that will allow voters to register online and on Election Day. The legislation, she said, will expand use of absentee ballots and increase penalties for voter harassment or intimidation.

“However complex the reasons may be — and they are — we must do something to reverse those numbers and increase voter participation,” Merrill said. “If I am able to do one thing in my time as secretary of the state, that would be it.”

Over 30 percent of eligible Connecticut voters are unregistered, and only 30 percent of registered voters turned out in last fall’s statewide municipal elections, CT Mirror reported. But as state officials attempt to improve access to voting, many states nationwide have considered laws that make ballot access much more difficult.

At least one part of the legislation package — same-day voter registration — has already proven controversia. GOP state chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. said his party will oppose it.

“While I commend an effort to increase voter participation, instituting same day voter registration is simply not the answer,” Labriola said. “This is clearly an effort by the administration to keep themselves in power by making the voter rolls vulnerable and reducing ballot security.”

But Merrill disagreed, and said the proposed legislation is only a way to increase participation in elections.

“We must, of course, maintain the security and integrity of our elections, but never at the expense of disenfranchising a voter,” she said.

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