Office of the Secretary of the State
SUSAN BYSIEWICZ, Secretary of the State
Lesley Mara, Deputy Secretary of the State
Established - 1639
Statutory authority - CGS Sec. 3-77ff State Constitution
Central office - 30 Trinity Street,
Hartford, CT 06106
Number of employees - General Fund:
26 permanent full-time
Commercial Recording Division: 60 permanent full-time
Recurring operating expenses:
General Fund: $1,151,514
Commercial Recording Division: $5,737,213
Revenue deposited -
General Fund: $9,872,868
Commercial Recording Division: $8,026,759
Organizational structure – CRD Automation and Quality Improvement (Diane Steir, Manager); Commercial Recording Division (Vacant); Legislation and Elections Administration Division (Michael Kozik, Managing Attorney); Small and Minority Business Development Unit (Harland Henry, Manager) Management and Support Services Division (Blanche Reeves-Tucker, Fiscal Administrative Manager); Human Resources (Susan Phillips, Manager); Information Technology (Terrance Babcock, Manager).
Through the commitment of a knowledgeable staff and advanced technology, the Office of the Secretary of the State works as a team to provide a wide range of services for the people and businesses of Connecticut.
We are a repository of records for the state, and provide important information and resources regarding business and commercial filings, elections, and authentication as prescribed by the constitution, and federal and state laws.
We seek to support business development opportunities, and foster a more inclusive political process by educating, informing and engaging communities in youth and civic participation.
Our vision is to be the leader in providing prompt quality service, increasing access to information, and promoting participation in the democratic process.
The Secretary of the State is designated by the Constitution and General Statutes of Connecticut as the official keeper of a wide array of public records and documents. The office is a vital source of information regarding various businesses, commercial lenders, elections, legislation, regulations and other areas, and responds to more than 600,000 requests for information annually. It also publishes, distributes and sells the State Register and Manual and other publications.
Connecticut law makes the Secretary of the State responsible for the administration of many aspects of business law including the approval of all certificates of incorporation, organization and dissolution, as well as annual and biennial reports. Trademarks are registered here as well.
As Commissioner of Elections for the State of Connecticut, the Secretary is charged to administer, interpret and implement election laws and ensure fair and impartial elections. Under the terms of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, the Secretary has the same responsibility for federal elections.
The Office of the Secretary of the State is firmly committed to a personnel management program designed to ensure equal opportunity for all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, marital status, national origin, ancestry, mental retardation, physical disability, prior convictions of a crime, sexual preference, past or present history of mental disorder or political affiliation. The elimination of sexual harassment and Workplace Violence is also an important element of the agency's comprehensive affirmative action program. The agency established a multi-cultural advisory committee in 2003 to assist in affirmative action/cultural issues.
The office serves the public through four divisions:
· Commercial Recording Division (CRD) files and maintains legally required records showing the formation of and fundamental changes to corporations, limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships, limited partnerships and other businesses. The Commercial Recording Division (CRD) disseminates that information to the general public and the business, banking and legal communities. Transactions relevant to security interests in personal property are perfected by filing statements under the Uniform Commercial Code statutes with the Research and Response unit. These filings protect the holder of the security interest by securing the lien and providing public notice that such interest exists. Trade, service, collective, certification and device marks are granted registration and the division investigates and collects fees and penalties from foreign corporations doing business in Connecticut without authority. CRD offers real time access to corporate and UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) documents via the Internet. Anyone who has access to the Internet can go to the Secretary of the State's website and then to CRD's database called "CONCORD". You may obtain names and addresses of corporate officers and directors, business addresses and a listing of all filings made for that business. Our Public Service Area is open for customers from 8:30 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. These expanded hours have given the business community more time during the business day to submit requests and file documents. The division is responsible for administering the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), which provides services to victims of crime.
· Legislation and Elections Administration Division (LEAD) administers, interprets and implements all state and federal laws pertaining to elections, primaries, nominating procedures, and the acquisition and exercise of voting rights. The Division encourages and monitors the implementation of the National Voter Registration Act and other voter registration efforts in Connecticut. In conjunction with local Town Clerks and Registrars of Voters, the division provides training for local elected officials. The division, working with local officials, has put into operation a statewide-computerized voter registry system, which complies with the Help America Vote Act.
In addition the division is the official keeper of all acts, orders, grants and resolutions of the General Assembly, publishes the State Register and Manual, receives and maintains legislation, regulations and a wide range of other public documents as required by statute, administers Connecticut’s notary public program, and maintains the “Interactive” State Register & Manual on the Secretary of the State’s website, updating information on state, local, and federal government on a weekly basis.
· Information Technology is responsible for the administration, support, development and maintenance of all computer systems and related applications within the agency. It also provides support to the Centralized Voter Registration system, CONCORD (Connecticut Online Commercial Recording Database), Agency website and all E-Government initiatives within the agency.
· Management and Support Services supports the office in the areas of human resources, affirmative action, fiscal administration, business, revenue depositing, purchasing, data processing and other support services as well as being the distribution and sales agent for the Connecticut State Register and Manual (the “Blue Book”) and other agency publications.
In addition, the Office of the Secretary of the State administers a wide range of programs and services for Connecticut’s young people, citizens, and businesses. These include:
· Civics Education – Every school year since 1999, the Secretary of the State has paid weekly visits to colleges, high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools to encourage youth civic participation. As part of this effort, the Secretary has registered 17 and 18-year-old high school students along with local officials. As of May 2007, more than 380 elementary, middle, high schools and colleges had been visited or had traveled to the State Capitol to visit with Secretary Bysiewicz.
· Student Essay Contest – Since 2000, the Office of the Secretary of the State has sponsored a successful essay contest among 4th grade elementary school students throughout Connecticut to encourage civic and cultural pride. In 2007, students from 64 schools submitted more than 1,000 essays. Award-winning students and their schools were recognized in a May ceremony at the State Capitol. Hundreds of schools have participated in the contest overall with more than 3,200 essays submitted since its inception. Beginning in the 2007-2008 school year, the contest will be directed to 5th grade students due to curriculum requirements.
· Student Poster Contest - The Office of the Secretary of the State also has sponsored a poster contest since 2000 to encourage civic involvement among 5th grade students. The most recent poster contest in 2007 resulted in more than 830 submissions from students in more than 39 schools, the largest number of submissions to date. Award-winning students and their schools were recognized in a May ceremony at the State Capitol. Beginning in the 2007-2008 school year, 4th grade students will have the opportunity to participate in the contest.
· Youth Vote Program – With low voter turnout among young people ages 18-24, the Office of the Secretary of the State created the Youth Vote Program in 1999 to allow students in grades four-through-twelve the chance to cast a vote on real voting machines on Election Day. The program was created to generate interest in the electoral process among students of pre-voting ages. The program also provides an educational component to give students a “hands-on” understanding of the electoral process, instill a sense of civic responsibility, and involve families working with their children for reality-based lessons of the process. The programs have been tremendously successful in several Connecticut towns, including Enfield and Middletown, which also saw a substantial increase in adult voter turnout after using Youth Vote. (CT General Statutes Sec. 9-236a) Additional towns are being targeted for 2008.
· “The Great High School Debate” – For the past ten years, the Office of the Secretary of the State has co-sponsored the “Great High School Debate” with the Connecticut Consortium for Law and Citizenship Inc. This annual competition has featured more than 275 schools from throughout Connecticut over the last ten years, debating topics as diverse as the death penalty, school uniforms, personal liberties during wartime, cigarette smoking, environmental protection, and the Electoral College. The Great High School Debate exists to encourage civic awareness and involvement at the high school level that will carry into students’ college and post-college careers. Six different high school teams have been declared champion since it began in 1996. In 2006 the event took place in October and November.
· Excellence In Citizenship Awards - At the conclusion of every school year, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz honors 8th Grade and 12th Grade students with “Excellence in Citizenship Awards.” These are given to students who not only excel academically, but also exhibit strong leadership skills, are involved in school-based activities, and are involved in some form of community service. Such active participation among students helps to build strong civic awareness at an early age, and these awards encourage a well-rounded and community-minded student population. A total of 198 “Excellence in Citizenship” awards were presented to students in 2007, and more than 2,700 students have received this award since 1999. Teachers and guidance personnel submit names of students (one per school) and awards are presented to students at award ceremonies or graduations throughout the state in May and June.
· Public Service Awards - Public Service Awards are given to individuals who have contributed to the civic life of their communities on a volunteer basis. This past year the Secretary of the State’s office honored poll workers with five or more years of service, giving special recognition to people who have worked at election polling places for as many as 60 years. Individuals received the award at a ceremony, one in each congressional district.
· Business Initiatives - The Secretary of the State’s business initiatives includes the Small & Minority Business Showcase administered by the Small and Minority Business Services Unit. This project has been able to assist over 7,000 entrepreneurs since its inception in March 2000. Several state, federal, and municipal agencies participate in order to reach the demographics of small businesses across the state. The project also collaborates with corporate and private entities to build relationships that together assist small enterprises. There are two business showcases each year, which serve as a one-stop opportunity for the business owner. In addition, other business programs include seminars and networking events designed to assist entrepreneurs in achieving their highest potential. Small businesses benefit by participating in all of the events.
· Records Management - The Records and Archiving Unit supports the Secretary’s constitutional duty to “have the safe keeping and custody of the public records and documents” by providing records management, archives and library services to the Office of the Secretary of the State. It also serves as the office’s liaison to the Public Records Administrator, as required by law. It maintains the Office library; administers on and off-site storage of, and access to, the wide variety of records filed with and generated by the Office; researches, prepares and implements record retention schedules for the Office; creates microfilm and digital copies of records (more than 640,000 images in fiscal year 2006/2007); responds to hundreds of annual staff and public reference requests; and creates indexes and guides to Office record series to facilitate staff and public access to information. In addition, the Unit provides indexing, access and preservation services for the original bills, acts and resolutions of the General Assembly, state agency regulations, and various special documents filed with the Office by state law.
· Transition of New Voting Technology - In compliance with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the Secretary of the State’s office began transitioning Connecticut’s voting equipment to optical scan technology and a vote-by-phone system. In November 2006, 25 towns used the optical scan technology for the general election and all towns used the vote-by-phone system which is accessible for individuals with disabilities. Additional communities used the optical scan technology in May 2007 and the remaining municipalities, more than 120, will use the equipment for the first time in the fall of 2007. All told, the Secretary of the State’s office delivered more than 8,700 privacy booths and 1,500 ballot boxes to locations across Connecticut. This new technology ensures a paper trail for every vote cast and that those individuals with disabilities have the chance to vote privately and independently.
Secretary Bysiewicz also made sure that each community had the support it needed to introduce voters to new equipment. Training on the new machines was provided to thousands of election workers across the state. The Secretary of the State’s office also successfully lobbied the legislature to provide $1.5 million to reimburse towns for the cost of printing optical scan ballots.
· “Affiliate and Participate” - In the summer of 2006, the Office of the Secretary of the State launched a campaign called “Affiliate and Participate,” encouraging unaffiliated voters and those not registered at all to register with one of the two major political parties in order to vote in the August 8th primary. As a result, 32,000 citizens either registered to vote for the first time or switched their affiliation to either Democrat or Republican. This helped lead to more than forty-three percent of the voters participating in the primary, the highest turnout rate in Connecticut’s history of state primaries.
The Secretary of the State’s office also set an ambitious goal of registering 35,000 new voters between the August 8th primary and the October 31st deadline for the general election. Ultimately 53,447 new voters registered in that timeframe, bringing the total number of people who registered after May 1st to 86,124.
The Secretary of the State is proud to report that on Election Day in November of 2006 there were 1,937,692 registered voters in Connecticut - the most there has ever been for a statewide election in Connecticut.
· Election Security and Integrity – In November 2006, the University of Connecticut and the Secretary of the State’s office conducted audits of election results from 20 percent of the polling places that used the optical scan machines. The results, which showed that the machines worked exceptionally well, were published in a report made available to the public.
During the 2007 legislative session, Secretary Bysiewicz won passage of a comprehensive audit bill, Public Act 07-194, An Act Concerning the Integrity and Security of the Voting Process, which requires Connecticut to conduct random audits of 10% of all polling districts in future elections, beginning with the 2007 September primary and November general elections. Connecticut is now the only state in New England to audit its election results.
· Records Management - In fiscal year 2006/2007, the Unit oversaw successful inventory and transfer of all hard copy, microfilm and digital records related to the state’s Campaign Finance function to the State Elections Enforcement Commission pursuant to Section 4-38d of the Connecticut General Statutes, and Public Act 05-05 of the October 25, 2005 Special Session of the Connecticut General Assembly.
· New Customer Service Center - In May 2007, the Secretary of the State marked the grand re-opening of the State’s Commercial Recording Division Customer Service Center on the 1st floor of 30 Trinity Street in Hartford. The only center of its kind in Connecticut, it provides more efficient service to individuals and businesses from across the state. The center’s staff includes license and application analysts, and paralegal specialists.
· Illegal Business Investigations - Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz and the state’s Attorney General conducted a year-long crackdown on out-of-state companies doing business illegally in Connecticut. The joint effort recovered $1.7 million in fiscal year 2006/07 from 600 out-of-state companies that failed to register with the state before doing business in Connecticut.
The requirement to obtain authority to do business exists to protect domestic organizations from unfair competition and place domestic and foreign organizations on an equal footing. The law also protects consumers with a grievance against an out-of-state business, by specifying where and what manner the company can be served with legal papers.
Secretary Bysiewicz and the Attorney General launched their aggressive enforcement efforts last year, pursuing hundreds of delinquent out-of-state businesses and threatening legal action. To the businesses’ credit, no legal action has been required and cases have been closed for all but 25 of the 600 companies under investigation. Fines and penalties collected from each business range from $165 to more than $20,000. The collections total for fiscal year 2006/07 is more than the total for the previous six fiscal years combined.