Return Merrill and Lembo to office

It has been a strong first term for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

She made it easier for Connecticut residents to vote by introducing online registration earlier this year. As a result, more than 31,000 people have registered in this manner.

Due to Secretary Merrill's initiatives, the state has Election Day registration. Last Election Day - the first in the state with Election Day registration - nearly 3,000 people were able to vote who could not have done so in the past. That was in a local election year, when turnouts are lower. Expect the number to grow this election.

The Democratic incumbent also led the effort to get a state constitutional amendment on the ballot. If passed it would end the Constitution's unreasonable constraints on accessing absentee ballots and on Election Day-only voting. While it would institute no changes, it would engage a debate on allowing some manner of early voting in Connecticut.

"Our goal should be to make it easy and convenient for voters to participate in our democracy," Secretary Merrill told us of her philosophy. Connecticut citizens should welcome that approach.

Her Republican opponent, Peter Lumaj, voices a similar sentiment. "I will do everything within my power to make voting as easy and as accessible as possible." His policy stances, however, tell a different story.

Mr. Lumaj contends the proposed constitutional amendment is "incredibly dangerous" and "poses a serious risk to our state." While he is OK with making it easier to obtain an absentee ballot, he wants to continue restricting voting to Election Day. He appears to be another Republican who fears that more people voting is not good for his party.

The Republican challenger talks a lot about addressing voter fraud, but the reality is that it is rare. In working to pass the Election Integrity bill, Secretary Merrill addressed past problems of cities not having sufficient ballots and she obtained for her office greater authority to intervene if there are Election Day irregularities.

The Green Party candidate, S. Michael DeRosa, wants to change election rules that favor the two major parties. It is legitimate goal and one he should continue to push. It is not a reason to elect him.

Finally, we note that Secretary Merrill brought her office into the 21st century, improving software to make it easier for businesses to meet filing requirements and to improve the office's database.

That's a lot of progress in four years. The Day endorses Denise Merrill for Secretary of the State.

Comptroller

It is always refreshing when a political candidate actually fulfills a campaign pledge. Comptroller Kevin Lembo did just that by working to make government information more open and accessible, as he promised. The Democrat is completing his first term.

His office launched "Open Connecticut," a website that pulls together budgets, revenue collections, spending summaries and many other public records that were previously difficult to find.

Mr. Lembo's push for increased transparency contributed to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's decision in December 2013 to issue Executive Order 38, "to maintain a searchable electronic database containing information regarding certain economic assistance and tax credits that were utilized for the purpose of recruitment or retention of businesses."

That is the data concerning the "corporate welfare" that Gov. Malloy's opponent, Tom Foley, criticizes, but which the governor defends as a legitimate economic development tool. You can dig through the information at data.ct.gov.

Mr. Lembo has also done a credible job fulfilling the traditional responsibility of his office - serving as the fiscal guardian of state government and issuing public alerts when the numbers show the state drifting toward deficit. He has been an honest broker, even when it has meant challenging the governor's numbers.

Republican Sharon J. McLaughlin is making her first run for elective office. Her background includes accounting and bookkeeping work. Nothing in her campaign suggests voters should hire her to replace Mr. Lembo. The Green Party candidate is Rolf W. Maurer, whose primary issue is promoting industrial use of hemp. We don't get the connection to comptroller.

In this race, the incumbent is the clear choice. The Day endorses Kevin Lembo for comptroller.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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