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HAS THE SECRETARY OF THE STATE VIOLATED THE STATE CONSTITUTION AND ELECTION LAW?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 20, 2020) — Two hearings in an election lawsuit filed against Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill (D) will be held this week, with state Supreme Court Justice Richard A. Robinson presiding.
Hearings will take place on Monday afternoon and Wednesday morning, respectively, and will be live-streamed to maintain social-distancing protocols brought about by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Monday’s hearing begins at 2:00 PM EDT, the court order states, and will address Merrill’s Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit as well as the plaintiff’s Motion for Order.
The suit, Mary Fay, et al, v. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, was filed July 1 and claims Merrill unconstitutionally sent applications to all Connecticut registered voters offering the opportunity to vote by mail in the August 11 primaries.
The plaintiffs in the case are four Connecticut primary congressional candidates who state in their complaint: “The Secretary of the State’s Application for Absentee Ballot for the August 11, 2020 primary election, which is expected to be mailed to all Connecticut voters, uses the COVID-19 pandemic to unconstitutionally impose effectively no-excuse absentee voting. However, the Connecticut Constitution does not permit no-excuse absentee voting and entrusts the electorate to define the scope of absentee voting through constitutional amendment.”
The Post & Email can confirm that the applications were sent to registered voters and that the initial “excuse” offered on the application is “COVID-19.” To the right of that it states, “All voters are able to check this box, pursuant to Executive Order 7QQ,” referring to the order issued May 20 by Gov. Ned Lamont (D).
The executive order states that “Section 9-135 of the Connecticut General Statutes is modified to provide that, in addition to the enumerated eligibility criteria set forth in subsection (a) of that statute, an eligible elector may vote by absentee ballot for the August 11, 2020 primary election if he or she is unable to appear at his or her polling place during the hours of voting because of the sickness of COVID-19. For purposes of this modification, a person shall be permitted to lawfully state he or she is unable to appear at a polling place because of COVID-19 if, at the time he or she applies for or casts an absentee ballot for the August 11, 2020 primary election, there is no federally approved and widely available vaccine for prevention of COVID-19. It shall not constitute a misrepresentation under subsection (b) of Section 9-135 of the General Statutes for any person to communicate the provisions of this modification to any elector or prospective absentee ballot applicant.”
The order further “authorizes” Merrill to “modify any required notice, statement, or description of the eligibility requirements for voting by absentee ballot on any printed, recorded, or electronic material in order to provide accurate information to voters about the modifications to absentee voter eligibility and related requirements of this order.”
Wednesday’s hearing “on the merits” will commence at 10:00 a.m. and will also be live-streamed. “THE PLAINTIFFS SHOULD BE PREPARED TO SHOW CAUSE WHY THE RELIEF SOUGHT IN THEIR PETITION AND COMPLAINT FILED JULY 1, 2020, PURSUANT TO G.S. § 9-323 AND THEIR APPLICATION FOR PERMANENT INJUNCTION SHOULD BE GRANTED,” the order states.