Common Sense: The good, bad, and ugly secret ballot

We often take for granted the idea of the secret ballot. One alternative to the secret vote is the public vote. Sometimes we would prefer a public vote, sometimes it is necessary,

The Connecticut Constitution gives us the right to the secret vote. In considering the Constitutional Amendment this year, we note that it represents a third alternative: A semi-secret vote, if anything a worse alternative than either a secret vote or a public vote with the disadvantages of each

Judge Stevens: Missing at least one amendment to the Constitution

Retired Justice Stevens has a new book: Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution. We have not read the book, but we have seen Justice Stevens interviewed on NPR and from the table on contents understand the outlines of his six proposed amendments. From the interview he indicated his goal was correcting recent errors of the Court in following the intent of the Founders.

We say he missed a big one. The problems of our electoral system and the Gore v. Bush decision in 2000.

Fixing the Transcript for DemocracyNow: “Fixing” the Electoral College

In a segment last week DemocracyNow editorialized on, interviewed New Yorkers, and representatives of FairVote, on the occasion of New York joining the National Popular Vote Compact/Agreement: Fixing the Electoral College: New York Joins Pact to Elect President by Popular Vote

Unfortunately, their transcript needs at least as much fixing as our current election system. As CTVotersCount readers know, we oppose the Compact because it would make a risky system, much riskier, without providing the claimed benefits. We understand the attraction to many, like nuclear power, fracking, GMOs, and Touch Screen Voting, the national popular vote would seem to be beneficial, yet like those other ideas it has largely unrecognized and unappreciated consequences. For details and background, refer to our recent testimony to the Connecticut Legislature or review our index of past NPV posts..

As a service to our readers, we here provide some annotations to the DemocracyNow transcript, showing where we disagree with the interviewees, and some of the biased comments of the reporters.

CyberDissonence? State concern of Biblical Proportions

In Connecticut, apparently: Electricity is Critical! .., when it comes to elections, the message is “What Us Worry?”

You could say the State’s concern with Electoral attack is of Biblical proportions, i.e. criticizing utilities while not noticing the XP in our own systems.

What might Plato say to us about election integrity?

“If we don’t understand our tools, then there is a danger that we will become the tool of our tools.”

Like Plato, we will leave you to contemplate his statement and our questions. Is that a worthwhile exercise?

If Internet voting is so safe, why is the power grid so vulnerable?

Of course the answer is that Internet voting is not safe, much more vulnerable than the power grid. But why don’t we know that?

How are grid vulnerabilities different from the vulnerabilities of electronic voting and Internet voting in particular? Lets look at a story from the LA Times highlighting vulnerabilities in the power grid

Mid-Term Report: One more bill best left off the agenda

We conclude our summaries of the election bills we are watching that passed the Government Elections and Administration Committee this year.

As is too often the case, this bill is aimed at a concept we strongly support, yet the bill is so flawed that is misleading and dangerous. Without going into the details I can claim, in all modesty, that I have been a strong, supporter of the concept nationally, and a catalyst in Connecticut. I would be happy to sit back and let others take deserved bows for a great result, well implemented. However, the worst outcome would be the loss of the value of post-election audits, knowing that I was a likely cause.

Mid-Term Report: Two bills that should go forward

Today we highlight two bills important to election administration that we hope will be passed. As is often the case, nothing is perfect, yet sometimes testimony improves an inadequate bill, based on a good concept. Sometimes we support a bill that falls short, that none the less would be an improvement.

Mid-Term Report: Two really dangerous bills and a duck

Yesterday, the Government Elections and Administration (GAE) held its last meeting of the year to approve bills originating in the Committee. Today we will recap three of be seven election bills we are tracking.

It is hard to compare and prioritize the importance and impact of bills for good or ill. Today’s three bills provide an instructive contrast. All three are well intended, yet ill conceived. One is extremely threatening to democracy, yet the threat may be way off or ultimately avoided. Another sets a bad precedent for Connecticut and the Nation, flaunts reason, with a message almost the opposite of that intended. The third aimed at fairness is unfair to most of those seeking redress for an imagined unfairness. UPDATED.

Testimony: Defending the Secret Vote and Check-in Integrity

Yesterday, I testified against two bills. I do not particularly like testifying against bills that promote concepts that I support, like electronic check-in, yet like all technology, it can be done in a way that helps, without adding risks.

On the other hand, it is a privilege to defend the Secret Vote, one of many, often under-appreciated, keystones of democracy. Also appreciated is the many thoughtful questions presented by the Committee which gave me an opportunity to stand for the Secret Vote.