How not to audit, Chicago style vs. Connecticut style

This video has gone viral over the last week. It is a hearing of a public comment at the Chicago Board of Elections.

This would not normally, exactly, happen in Connecticut

EDITORIAL: General Assembly heading the wrong way on post-election audits


UPDATE: The bill passed the House unanimously, including several who responded to your emails with promises they would not vote to cut the audits.

The Connecticut Senate has passed S.B. 252.  If the House passes and the Governor signs the bill it will be another national embarrassment for Connecticut, doing the wrong thing at precisely the worst time.

We have voter-verified paper ballots. To be valuable and provide confidence they must be used for strong, publicly verified, post-election audits. You can help. Tell your legislators that you want stronger audits, not weaker audits. Tell them to oppose S.B. 252. Then consider volunteering one day after each election and primary to observe with the Citizen Audit.

ACTION ALERT: CT General Assembly Should Not Be Weakening Election Audits

Amid charges of voting integrity lapses around the country, the Connecticut General Assembly is on its way to weakening, our already weak post-election audits. The Senate has already passed substitute S.B. 252. Please call your State Representative and ask them not to make that same mistake. Find your rep and their contact info at: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp Tell them:

As a concerned constituent, I urge you to oppose S.B. 252. The committee bill weakens our post-election audits. In a time of public concern with the primary process in several states, we should be strengthening, not weakening our post-election audits.

Call Today. The bill could be called for voting in the House at almost any time!

Amid positive systems news, SOTS recognizes online registration issues

As we mentioned earlier in the week, Connecticut State systems are an embarrassment and our Online Voter Registration system was down Saturday morning.  Apparently it has been down more than that. Yesterday the Secretary of the State took note in a press release

It has come to the agency’s attention that there were intermittent slowdowns and disruptions to the online voter registration system.

UPDATED

Connecticut Makes National Short List – Embarrassing

Yesterday the Connecticut Online Voter Registration System was down for the morning.  Reminiscent of last fall when the system was down for most of the last day local election officials had to print voter lists for polling places in the November election.

Last week Reuters covered a study of cybersecurity and Connecticut was cited as one of the weakest states. It also cited the U.S. Government as worse than most U.S. Corporations.

We sadly await the Election Day when the Connecticut voter registration system is down, especially with no contingency plan for Election Day Registration. Don’t say “Who Could Have Imagined”, we did.

Bloomberg Businessweek: A Decade Hacking Elections

From Bloomberg Businessweek: How to Hack an Election: <read>

Rendón, says Sepúlveda, saw that hackers could be completely integrated into a modern political operation, running attack ads, researching the opposition, and finding ways to suppress a foe’s turnout. As for Sepúlveda, his insight was to understand that voters trusted what they thought were spontaneous expressions of real people on social media more than they did experts on television and in newspapers. He knew that accounts could be faked and social media trends fabricated, all relatively cheaply. He wrote a software program, now called Social Media Predator, to manage and direct a virtual army of fake Twitter accounts
“Having a phone hacked by the opposition is not a novelty. When I work on a campaign, the assumption is that everything I talk about on the phone will be heard by the opponents.”

We note that similar issues have been raised in our current primary season. With charges and verifications that Twitter followers of at least one candidate appear to be largely fake accounts, along with unverified accusations that campaigns and their databases have been infiltrated, web access disrupted at critical times.  Given the current state of web  security, we see no reason that the same has, is, and will go on in our U.S. Elections.

It is best to be skeptical of anything you read in any media.  On the campaign trail assume the video is always on and every keystroke is captured by the opposition, media, and Government.  As always authenticity makes life simpler.

Study Shows Connecticut Municipal Websites Do Not Serve Voters

Most fail to provide information voters need to register and vote
Citizens must be better served and municipalities could save money

From the press release:

April 6, 2016: The Connecticut Citizen Election Audit released a study evaluating election information provided to voters by Connecticut’s 169 municipalities. Information was collected by volunteer evaluators just prior to the 2015 November election.

Citizen Audit spokesperson Luther Weeks stated, “Many towns do not provide the information most sought by voters across Connecticut, such as ‘What is on the ballot?’ or ‘Where do I vote?’. Many failed to inform citizens of online registration, which could increase registration and cut municipal expenses.”

Municipal website findings include:

  • Only 33% answered “What is on the ballot?”
  • Only 56% answered “Where do I vote?”
  • Only 58% provided the date of the next election.
  • Only 28% provided registration deadlines.
  • 5 provided an incorrect election date.
  • 2 provided incorrect registration information.
  • 51% had no link to Online Registration. 28% had no link to Online Registration or to a Mail-In Registration form.
  • Only 17% posted results of their 2014 election.
  • Only 15% provided Voter ID information.

Weeks said, “The Secretary of the State’s web has much of this information, yet studies show that voters go first to their local web. Registration information is important for new voters, and all voters want the election date, ‘Who is on the ballot?’, ‘Where do I vote?’ and voter ID requirements.”

The report also includes recommendations to municipalities, the Secretary of the State, and a low-cost sample website for a whimsical town, http://NutmegtonCT.wordpress.com

<Press Release (.pdf)> <Full Report (.pdf)>

Arizona should not go away.

Certainly the officials in Arizona would like the interest in what happened in the primary to wane. It should not.  Democracy deserves better than this.

It is typically a high bar to re-run an election, maybe too high.  Typically you need to prove that enough voters would have been disenfranchised to change the result.  Sometimes as far as proving they would have voted for the looser.  Arizona’s Democratic Primary is near that bar.  In fact, if we consider the number of votes that would have awarded one more and one less delegate to either campaign its not that high a bar compared to the disenfranchisement.

Here is a video of the 5.5 hours of hearings. And comments from a Connecticut advocate.

Editorial: We didn’t “Fix this” or was it Fixed? We all lose anyway.

After the long lines in some states in 2012, President Obama said “We Have To Fix That“. Four years and a Presidential Commission later, it seems, at least Arizona is going the wrong way.

The results, entirely predictable, were endless lines akin to those that await the release of new iPhones.

We say:

  • Any disenfranchisement, disenfranchises every voter in the United States.  Our vote and democracy is distorted by the disenfranchisement of others.  We could have a different President and different party in power next January based on a distorted result.
  • Even if there was no disenfranchisement, (unlikely from what we see at this point), our democracy suffers from the lack of credibility unless the issues are investigated and effectively fully resolved.

 

The Risky Way to Make an Important, Costly Decision

On March 11th,  Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill, released an RFP along with a Press Release: Secretary of the State Aims to Revolutionize Voting Devices for Persons with Disabilities in Connecticut.

From what I can determine, this is a rushed, unsound plan.  It is likely to be wasteful, risks chaos in November, and unlikely to satisfy the needs of those with disabilities, taxpayers, or polling place officials.

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