Merrill too scared to uphold integrity of state's elections

Published on Saturday, 8 July 2017 19:53
Written by Chris Powell

Why the fuss about the requests for state voter registration data from President Trump’s commission investigating his unsubstantiated claim of massive fraudulent voting in the last presidential election?

Democrats charge that the commission’s objective is to suppress voting by racial minorities, immigrants, and, well, Democrats. Democrats and Republicans alike complain that some information being sought would invade personal privacy.

But any fraudulent voting should be suppressed, like voting by noncitizens and minors. In any case the Trump administration is not in charge of voting procedures. The states are.

Further, there is no way to ensure the integrity of elections unless the identity of voters is public.

Maybe that is why Connecticut’s basic voter registration and participation information is public under the state’s freedom-of-information law.

Connecticut’s top election official, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, a Democrat, at first admitted that most of the requested data is public and had to be disclosed. Then she said many people were urging her not to disclose the data and she didn’t want to disclose it, since it might reveal addresses of domestic violence victims and police officers and since she didn’t trust the commission’s motives.

The secretary’s objections just distracted from her refusal to make a forthright defense of freedom of information and election integrity when they might serve the purposes of an unpopular national administration. For bad as Trump’s motives may be, the law remains the law. Indeed, it is an old principle of Connecticut law that people don’t have to give any reason for seeking access to public records.

So in obstructing the commission’s request for public records, being scared of the president’s unpopularity, Merrill impugned her own impartiality and integrity as the state’s top election official, and the state’s largest newspaper, the Hartford Courant, even cheered her for disobeying the right-to-know law to thwart Trump.

While Trump may be everything his critics call him, there is a reason to question Connecticut’s election system: the facilitation of illegal immigration by state government and city governments in New Haven and Hartford. State government issues driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and New Haven and Hartford give them city identification cards, while for registering to vote, Connecticut requires only evidence of residency, evidence like the documents being issued to illegal immigrants, not evidence of citizenship.

As a result it is actually fairly compelling to ask whether some people in Connecticut are voting illegally - and why the state’s top election official is willing to break the law so no one can find out.

* * *

Business should blame itself: Business leaders in Connecticut complain about the state’s “business climate,” though business conditions here - taxes and regulation - don’t seem any more onerous than they are throughout the Northeast.

Connecticut’s problem is far less a matter of “business climate” than of state government’s insolvency and the failure of some of its basic policies. These things may lead to big tax increases on everyone, including business, amid declining living conditions.

Besides, Connecticut’s business leaders themselves are much to blame for this “climate,” for they long have been ineffectual in state politics, figuring that they could do no more than moderate the frequent tax and policy impositions put on business by the state’s dominant political party, the Democratic Party, as the government employee unions kept pushing the party to the left.

If business leaders don’t go into full political opposition now, they will not only remain ineffectual but will lose any right to complain.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Editorials on Saturday, 8 July 2017 19:53. Updated: Saturday, 8 July 2017 19:55.