Senate Republican Leader Demands Answers as State Errors Delay Absentee Ballots

August 4, 2020

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) wrote to Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today following an alarming correspondence from the Connecticut Town Clerks Association President indicating that over 20,000 ballots had still not been sent out by the third-party mail house hired by the Secretary of the State. Town clerks are now scrambling to correct the mail house’s mistakes, combing through lists to identify and send absentee ballots at the last minute before next week’s primary election.


“It’s unsettling that our town clerks are now being left with a nearly impossible task to complete in a week when the Secretary of the State knew there were going to be problems. This is incompetence at its worst,” said Sen. Fasano. “Secretary Merrill’s test run has failed. Republicans have warned about the potential for issues, Secretary Merrill ignored those concerns and now we are facing problems and some people may not be able to have their vote counted. That’s inexcusable.”


Click here to read the email from the President of the Town Clerk’s Association.


Senator Fasano’s letter to Secretary Merrill is below:

August 3, 2020


Dear Madam Secretary:


It has come to my attention that Connecticut town clerks are dealing with a significant issue that has resulted in over 20,000 ballots not being sent out by the third-party mail house hired by your office. As a result, a significant amount of work is now falling at the last minute onto our town clerks in order to prevent voters from having their right to vote by absentee ballot denied. I have attached email sent by the CTCA president to all town clerks explaining this situation.


As of today, I also have yet to hear a response from you or your office addressing my concerns raised in a letter I sent to you on Friday, July 31, 2020, other than you indicating that you would contact me.


The specific issue identified in the CTCA president’s email today involves over 20,000 ballots that have still not been sent by the third-party mail house and fears that a number of absentee ballots may not make it in the mail in time for the primary election next week. Therefore, town clerks are being advised to process applications for a second time to send out ballots because the third-party mail house has again failed in its duties, leaving town clerks to scramble to correct their errors.


Town clerks are concerned about voter disenfranchisement and so am I. Our town clerks are already stretched thin, working hard with just over a week until the primary election. And the errors of the third-party mail house you are managing has created another crisis for them to address, with the potential repercussions being that people may not receive their absentee ballots in time and may be denied a vote. My understanding is this predominantly applies to voters in our cities.


I again ask for a full explanation of the issues and am seeking immediate responses to the questions I sent you on July 31, 2020 and demand that you share that information with the public. The public has a right to know what is going on. It is their votes on the line that we must protect.


In addition, I ask that any funding you get from the federal government to assist in the elections process be used to make our town clerks whole as these repeated alleged mistakes by the third-party mail house are resulting in our town clerks having to work feverishly to save the primary election from going awry.


These issues, and your secrecy and refusal to address the concerns raised by town clerks and Republican lawmakers, should give us all pause about you continuing to use a third-party mail house for the general election. You asked everyone to allow the primary election to be a test run for a brand new system, abandoning the long standing absentee ballot system our towns have used in past elections. The test run has failed. You cannot create a new system that takes years to implement in a matter of weeks. Now we have a system that is falling apart with just days to go until the primary election. Time after time I have pointed out my concerns and you totally ignored them. The failure of your system is on you.


Finally, I am now greatly concerned about your office’s opposition to a provision of the new absentee ballot law passed by the General Assembly that Representative Candelora stood his ground to include as a bipartisan amendment on the final bill. The provision, which requires mail houses to send voters their absentee ballot within 72 hours of receipt of their application, was something I understand that you opposed and now I question whether you were aware that such a timeline would be problematic for the third-party mail house you hired that has struggled to meet all of their deadlines thus far.


Connecticut residents have a right vote, and I expect more transparency from you about these issues and assistance for town clerks to correct the mistakes your office has allowed to occur. Your party has portrayed itself as the protector of people’s right to vote and blamed Republicans for trying to deny people that right. Nothing could be further from the truth. Republicans have warned about the potential for issues, you ignored those concerns and now we are facing problems and some people may not be able to have their vote counted. That’s inexcusable.



Len Fasano

Senate Republican Leader


Cc: Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney, Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides