The House Majority Leader today said she plans to introduce legislation that will make it illegal to pay someone to register voters.

“Any practice like this is fraught with the potential for voter fraud,” said Rep. Denise W. Merrill, D-Mansfield, who is a candidate for secretary of the state.

The issue arose after the Stamford Advocate reported that Republican Linda McMahon’s U.S. Senate campaign planned to start a voter registration drive in Merrill’s district that would pay $5 to student workers at the University of Connecticut for each Republican they registered.

A McMahon spokesman told the Advocate the plan is legal, but registrars and the secretary of the state’s office raised concerns that it might encourage fraud. The campaign has since cancelled the plan.

“We dropped the bonus component after weighing the concerns,” said Shawn McCoy, a spokesman for the McMahon campaign. The campaign is still paying workers $10 an hour, but will not pay a $5 bonus for each Republican registered as originally planned.

Merrill is opposed to any payment for voter registration, said Merrill’s spokesman Dan Uhlinger.

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Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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