Wilton’s Peggy Reeves retires from state election position

Peggy Reeves, who has served as the state’s election director for the past eight years, retired from that position effective Aug. 1, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced last Thursday.

Reeves, who lives in Wilton, was elected state representative for the 143rd District in 2008 and served one term. Before that she was the town’s Democratic registrar of voters for 14 years. She was appointed election director in 2011.

A board member of both the National Association of State Election Directors and the Electronic Registration Information Center, “Reeves is nationally recognized as one of the best election administrators in the United States,” a press release from Merrill’s office said.

“Peggy Reeves has helped Connecticut become a national leader in election administration,” said Merrill. “Peggy was instrumental in the implementation of critical election reforms like Election Day registration, online voter registration, and automatic voter registration. Her commitment to ensuring that every eligible Connecticut citizen is able to register without barrier and every Connecticut voter can vote without obstacle has been unwavering, but it is her positive attitude and generous spirit that will be missed the most. I wish her the very best.”

In her position, Reeves oversaw all the registrars of voters and town clerks in the state.

She was also one of 50 state election directors and networking with her colleagues across the country was one of the most interesting aspects of the job, she told The Bulletin.

“We are all in the same boat, all trying to make sure people can vote and in a nonpartisan way. We got great ideas from the other states,” she said.

One of the major issues she and Merrill had to deal with over the past few years was Russian interference, as outlined in the Mueller report.

“One of my big concerns is the Russians did go into all 50 states. Honestly, all the election directors and people in Congress understand it,” she said. In Connecticut, she said, the military arm of the Russian government “scanned our system. We were able to stop the breach,” she said, adding she worked extensively with Homeland Security and the FBI.

“For a long time we’ve been able to block tracking like that. We were not one of the states where they breached it. I don’t think people understand the threat.

“I am very concerned they will be back in 2020. We have to make sure the state registration system is safe,” she said. While outsiders could not change election results, “if they got into the voter registration system, they could cause chaos.”

Time away

Reeves, who is 67, said a big part of why she retired is that she’s been living away from home for the last eight years. Finding a daily commute from Wilton to Hartford too much, she’s been living near the state’s capital during the week and coming to Wilton, where she has a husband and home, on the weekends.

“I got tired of doing that,” she said.

“I loved what I was doing, but the job now is more demanding,” she said, explaining that she oversaw a team of election staff.

When asked why she spent 24 years focused on voting and elections, Reeves said it has always been a passion of hers.

“I was always campaigning for people as a high school student,” she said. “I was always interested in politics. My parents always said it was important to vote and be civically engaged.”

Once, she said, she asked her mother who she voted for and her mother wouldn’t say, responding, “it’s a secret ballot!”

While she’s now focused on family matters, Reeves said there’s always the possibility to go back and work for the state as a retired person or to become a consultant.

“Right now, I just need a break,” she said.

Reeves has been succeeded as election director by longtime Office of the Secretary of the State Staff Attorney Ted Bromley. A graduate of Hobart College and Western New England School of Law, he has been a staff attorney in the secretary of the state’s office since 2001. He is a member of the bar in both Connecticut and the District of Columbia.