Opinion: Protecting democracy and ensuring data security are priorities for CT – Darien Times

New Haven Health Director Maritza Bond accepts the endorsement of New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker on the New Haven Green on May 5, 2022.
Elections are about choices. On Tuesday, Aug. 9, Connecticut Democrats face a very important choice: to decide which candidate shall head into the November general election to serve as Connecticut’s secretary of the state for the next four years.
Although often overlooked in past statewide elections compared with higher-profile contests, after Jan. 6, 2021, there can be no doubt about the critical nature of the office of the secretary of the state.
The individual elected is charged with the responsibility of safeguarding our democracy and the freedom and openness of our society that flows from the ability to elect the government that we choose.
Make no mistake — our democratic system of one person, one vote is under attack as never before. Foreign enemies, such as Russia and Iran, are making unprecedented efforts to probe and hack into state voter registration systems like Connecticut’s.
There are also political actors — even here in Connecticut — who peddle false conspiracies about past election results and nonexistent voter fraud in order to undermine public confidence in our election systems and restrict who can vote. In some states, Republican-led legislatures have even enacted laws giving themselves or individual secretaries of state the authority to reject election outcomes they don’t like. Those pushing the big election lie in this country are actually trying to rig the system to steal elections.
The attempt to suppress the votes of the young, the elderly, the poor, and Black and brown voters is, unfortunately, nothing new. As a young girl growing up in the Fair Haven neighborhood of New Haven, I learned firsthand about the impact of systemic racial discrimination. It’s what drove me to work in public health and public service.
There are tangible steps we can take to protect our democracy.
We need to invest in new technology to upgrade our voter registration database to make sure it is impenetrable to all forms of hacking and manipulation. Additionally, the state is currently using 20-year-old optical scan technology to count votes. Our machines are rapidly becoming obsolete and we need to replace them for the 800-plus polling places throughout our state.
Since elections are largely funded at the local level, we cannot simply require that cities and towns upgrade election technology and then just leave it to them to figure out how to pay for it. As secretary of the state of Connecticut, I will pursue ways for the state and federal governments to financially support cities and towns to upgrade their election equipment to make sure it is secure and follows all federal and state guidelines.
I will simultaneously strive to restore the trust and partnership necessary to make sure our municipal governments have the most up to date equipment and training. This will include efforts to secure the funding required to make the proper upgrades to our commercial registry of incorporated businesses so that our entrepreneurs can be best served by the information they have a right to access.
As a local health director in both Bridgeport and New Haven, following years in the Naugatuck Valley and Eastern Connecticut, I am acutely aware that municipal and state governments need to work in partnership. Leading efforts to save lives during the pandemic, it was plainly evident to me how critical these partnerships can be.
Additionally, I aim to restore the fiscal autonomy lost about a decade ago when the legislature stripped away the ability of secretary of the state’s office to use the revenue it generates every year from business fees (roughly $40 million) to make technological and personnel upgrades as needed and instead gave that authority to the legislature. This abruptly ended years of good practice that allowed these upgrades to happen without going through a political process.
I am proud to have earned the endorsement of the AFL-CIO and other labor unions that represent hundreds of thousands of Connecticut working families — the backbone of our party, and our state. They know I am an experienced government manager with the vision and the leadership experience to be a successful secretary of the state. They know my word is my Bond — literally!
I humbly ask for your vote on Aug. 9 because together, we can put our state on the right path — and do it while making history.
Maritza Bond is a Democratic candidate for secretary of the state and New Haven health director.


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