Christine Stuart file photo
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill confirmed in a press release Friday that petitioning candidate Jonathan Pelto will not be appearing on the ballot during this year’s campaign for governor.

Merrill, the state’s top election official, verified what Pelto signaled to his supporters almost a week ago — he had failed to collect the 7,500 voter signatures necessary to petition onto the ballot. According to Merrill, Pelto collected 4,318 signatures.

Pelto, a liberal critic of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and former lawmaker, had hoped to challenge Malloy’s re-election by picking off progressive voters dissatisfied with the governor’s education policies. He created the Education and Democracy Party in an effort to get on the ballot.

“While we failed to achieve that critical goal, we’re hopeful that our effort has and will continue to spur a more serious discussion about the critically important issues facing Connecticut,” Pelto said Friday.

He said he would stay involved in the political process and will partner with other third parties to “develop and advocate for a legislative package that will reduce the unfair aspects of the petitioning process.”

Malloy will appear twice on the ballot in November: as the Democratic candidate and as the candidate for the Working Families Party. His 2010 rival, Tom Foley, will also appear on two lines as the candidate for the Republican Party and the Independent Party. Meanwhile, Joe Visconti, a conservative candidate and gun rights activist will also appear on the ballot.

Pelto had objected to the rejection of some of the signatures submitted for him and publicly considered a legal challenge. But he has since acknowledged that even if a court accepted those dismissed signatures, he still wouldn’t have enough to qualify.

“It’s become apparent to me that we may not be close enough that those errors will make a difference,” he said Monday. “. . . I think we just failed to get enough signatures, part of it is organizational. We just dropped the ball.”