Hartford, Conn. ( Associated Press) — Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill will step down from office six months before her third term ends, telling the Associated Press that she is resigning to spend more time with her husband, effective Thursday, at noon. , which is facing serious health problems.
The veteran Democrat, first elected as the state’s top election official in 2010 after serving 17 years in the Connecticut General Assembly, said it was a difficult decision, it’s an election year, and she felt responsible for ensuring Is. runs smoothly. However, Merrill, 73, said she could no longer help and care for her husband.
“It’s too much for me. I can’t do both, and I have to stay home,” she said Tuesday during an interview at her office, where she was packing old photos from her days in the legislature. Don’t have full-time caretakers, and it won’t work anyway. He is very dependent on me and I depend on him in many ways.”
Merrill’s husband, 78-year-old Dr. Stephen Leach, has been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for years and has recently been battling various health setbacks, she said.
The two living in stores have been with each other for nearly two decades. Merrill recalled Tuesday how her husband sat patiently in the gallery of the House of Representatives until late at night, when she was a state representative, waiting to drive home after the debate.
“He was such a supporter,” she said. “At least I can support that. That’s how I feel about it.”
Merrill announced about a year ago That she would not seek a fourth term, saying it was time for a “new generation” to “step up” with new ideas to further modernize voting and protect voters’ rights. But since then, she has been grappling with how to complete her term in view of her husband’s changing medical condition.
Merrill, who spoke several times with Democratic Governor Ned Lamont about her family’s situation, said: “I’ve been thinking about this for months and trying to figure out if I can manage it. “
“He’s been great, and he gets it,” Merrill said. “family first.”
Merrill plans to make a public announcement about her resignation on Wednesday. It will then be up to Lamont, who faces re-election in November, to choose her replacement.
While Scott Bates currently serves as deputy secretary of state, a job he has held since January 2017, Lamont has had no need to elect him. Bates, a former senior adviser to a non-governmental organization that works on political party development and good governance issues around the world, is also a former chairman of the Connecticut Port Authority.
“I’m sure whoever appoints the governor, we will be in good hands,” she said, noting that “the elections are strong” in Connecticut.
He listed a number of initiatives taken by his office and the General Assembly to make voting easier for the public, including strengthening digital security, training and certifying local election officials, fully staffing the office, and implementing did. Online voter registration, election day registration, automatic voter registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles, Dropbox for absentee ballots and a ballot tracking system.
Merrill, former president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, is stepping down at a time when the secretary of state and election clerk The country has been grappled with unfounded allegations of death threats, harassment and fraud. While Merrill has received some public criticism from Republicans at times, she said it is more experienced in other states than her colleagues.
“I always stress that Connecticut has great elections. We are doing an amazing job – 2020 was the best election I can remember, even in the face of COVID And all the changes that we had to make,” she said. “So I think it has helped people realize, ‘Oh, in Connecticut, we’re great. Maybe those other states are in trouble.