HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy publicly called on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly on Thursday to overhaul the state's elections system, saying recent problems at the polls highlight the need for professionalization and accountability.
The Democrat called it "inexcusable" to have breakdowns, such as polling places in Hartford not opening on time during this month's election - a mishap that prompted President Barack Obama to call in to WNPR-FM and plead with voters who couldn't cast ballots to return to the polls later in the day. Murphy also pointed to other instances, such as in 2010 when there weren't enough ballots in Bridgeport and in 2012 when there weren't enough workers at the West Hartford polls.
"Enough is enough. These kind of inexcusable breakdowns are denying Connecticut citizens the right to vote, and provide a rationalization for those that decided to stay home in the first place," Murphy said in a statement released to the media.
A former state senator, Murphy said Connecticut is well past the point of incremental reform and needs comprehensive changes. He said the "balkanized" election system where autonomous local registrars run elections with little state oversight has "resulted in major problem after major problem" and stunted the development of voting technology in the state.
"I believe the governor and the state legislature must undertake an effort in the 2015 session to structurally and comprehensively reform our system of elections," said Murphy, adding that it's "time to consider a new path for how we run the ballot."
Av Harris, spokesman for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, said her office welcomes Murphy's comments and agrees reforms are needed. He said Merrill already has met with Democratic and Republican legislative leaders to discuss possible new legislation for consideration when lawmakers convene in January.
"Everything is on the table," Harris said. "We clearly need more accountability in the system and more professionalization."