Denise W. Merrill will receive the Distinguished Public Service Award at the Connecticut Bar Association’s annual awards celebration, Celebrate with the Stars, on Wednesday, May 3.
She served as the 73rd secretary of the state for Connecticut from 2011 to 2022. In 2012, she launched a joint program with the Connecticut Bar Association, The Secretary Legal Assistance Program, which recruits and trains volunteer attorneys during state and federal elections to respond to issues on Election Day. During her tenure as secretary of the state, she consistently promoted access to open and fair voting, implementing an online voter registration system, same day voter registration, and automatic voter registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles. She also oversaw the development of web-based applications on the State of Connecticut’s website to increase transparency and access to information about voting. She has been and continues to be a vocal advocate of early voting and universal access to absentee ballots for Connecticut voters.
From 2016 to 2017, former Secretary Merrill served as the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State. Additionally, she previously served as an ex-officio member of the Connecticut Bar Association Civics Education Committee. From 1993 until her election as secretary of the state, she represented the 54th state house district in the Connecticut House of Representatives and also served in the role of house majority leader from 2009 to 2011. During her time in the State House of Representatives, she promoted numerous pieces of legislation focused on improving public education, economic development, and campaign finance reform.
The CBA Distinguished Public Service Award is given to a Connecticut resident, or a person with a meaningful relationship to Connecticut, who has made a significant contribution to society and has distinguished themself in their profession.
View the complete list of this year's Celebrate with the Stars awardees
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