Sen. Sampson Statement on Resignation of CT Secretary of the State Merrill

June 30, 2022

State Sen. Rob Sampson (R-16), ranking member of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, released the following statement regarding Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s announcement of resignation effective June 30, 2022, to spend more time with her husband, who is facing serious health problems. Today, Gov. Ned Lamont appointed retired Connecticut Associate Attorney General Mark Kohler to fill the vacancy, under state law.


“I can certainly appreciate Secretary of the State Merrill’s decision to prioritize the health of her family. There is nothing more important than taking care of loved ones and I wish her and her husband well. After today’s news of Governor Lamont’s appointment to fill the vacancy, I am hopeful that this individual will bring an approach that prioritizes state election law as outlined by our constitution.


“In Connecticut, the Secretary of the State has extraordinary powers and ultimately is the decision-maker on election policy. The job effectively includes running our election process and taking responsibility to see that our laws are followed and enforced, and that the results are above reproach. The last decade has been marred with substantial concerns in virtually every major election – mass swearing-in ceremonies, bussed-in voters, and more recently a poorly managed mail-in election using outdated voter rolls that not only cost taxpayers nearly $8 million but also constitutional questions about creating no-excuse absentee voting without the proper legislative process and voter approval. Last year, we had concerns over wet-signature requirements and ballot harvesting that went unanswered, and as far as anyone can tell – without consequences.

“It is important to note that the Secretary of the State is an elected, partisan position in our state government. Replacing the current Secretary with a Lamont appointee with only four months remaining until what should be highly contested statewide races should cause at least some consternation. As the ranking member of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, I have concerns for an open and fair election process,” said Senator Sampson.


“I am disappointed that the Governor did not involve legislative leaders, who represent the voice of Connecticut’s residents, to fill this otherwise elected state office and preserve confidence in the election process. What was the Governor’s criteria in making this selection, when his own name is on the ballot in November? What other individuals were considered? Will the new Secretary of the State be up to speed and up to the task in time for the August primaries let alone the November election?


“I’m hopeful that the Governor’s appointment will prioritize the state constitution as written as he oversees our November elections; I wish him well in this role and will gladly offer my help and guidance if called upon,” he said.