HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Presidential elections don’t happen every day, nor do global pandemics. 2020 was history making and posed a lot of voting challenges.

On Wednesday, the state’s chief election official honored a group of people who she says helped more than a million people turn out and vote last year in Connecticut.

2020 was a monstrous year for many reasons. But the state’s chief election official says voting was not one of them. It was actually extremely successful and she’s crediting a few key players for it.

“We had challenges of foreign interference, we had a global pandemic, and we had a divided polity at home,” said Scott Bates, Connecticut Deputy Secretary of the State.

State election officials say voting hasn’t been challenged as much as 2020, since the Civil War. Despite that, a record number of Connecticut voters turned out on November 3.

Wednesday, Secretary of State Denise Merrill honored so called “heroes of democracy” with National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Awards.

People like Mike Corey who worked to recruit thousands of poll workers. And state DMV officials for allowing CT to become one of the first states to launch an automatic voter registration system.’

“Is singularly responsible for how many people have registered to vote, kept up their information, enabled us to keep our voter lists more accurate,” said Merrill.

Officials had to connect local voter files with the DMV system. The effort spanned several gubernatorial administrations. Since 2016, it processed more than 600,000 new registration requests and more than 750,000 address changes.

The Connecticut National Guard was recognized for keeping cyber attacks at bay.

“We’re able to operationalize the cyber expertise of our citizen soldiers and airmen, and really give the Governor and the Secretary in this case another tool as we confront terrorism on many different levels,” said Maj. Gen. Francis Evon, Adjutant General of the Connecticut National Guard.

And longtime Spanish-language radio host, Felix Viera, was honored for encouraging his primarily Puerto Rican listeners to vote.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be here for the next Presidential election but I hope so,” said Viera.

To put this in perspective, in 2020 more than 1.2 million people registered to vote here in Connecticut. Voter turnout was close to 80 percent.