CT

Just a step in the right direction: Merrill meets with Homeland Security

“Yesterday, along with representatives from the state’s information technology and public safety departments, I met with regional officials from the United States Department of Homeland Security to discuss how we can work together to ensure that Connecticut elections are safe from outside interference or manipulation. We had a productive meeting and I look forward to working together in the months and years to come to protect our elections, the bedrock of our democracy.” – Denise Merrill, Connecticut Secretary of the State

We applaud this step in the right direction.  Last year as leader of the National Association of Secretaries of State, Merrill opposed the designation of elections as critical infrastructure, leading in expressing the concern for a Federal take-over of elections. We were critical of that stand then and remain so.

In our opinion this is just a step. There are several aspects to election security/integrity that should be addressed,. This  step may assist in those that are under direct control of the of the the State, yet less so those under local control.

Registrars mess up, City (taxpayers) pay fines, eventually

“Justice delayed is justice denied.” What could be worse?  Perhaps “Justice delayed and fines transferred to the victims.”

In 2014 the Registrars in Hartford failed to provide check-off lists to polling places in time for voting to begin at 6:00am.   From the stories of the public and explanations from officials at the time, it seems pretty clear it was not a simple error or comedy of errors.

Editorial
The pollbook delay went beyond incompetence. These conclusions and fines should not take close to three years.  The well-compensated registrars should be paying the fines not the City.

Why Signatures and Checking Them Matter

A vigilant Registrar in New Haven pursues suspicions.  From the New Haven Independent  Judge Hopeful Submits Forged Signatures <read>

Americo Carchia Wednesday said he’s considering whether to end his campaign for probate judge and vowed to cooperate with any potential criminal investigations after learning that he had submitted petitions with forged signatures to qualify for the Sept. 12 Democratic primary ballot.

CTVotersCount is 10 Years Old

BirthdaycakeToday marks the 10th anniversary of CTVotesCount. We had been planning the organization and the blog for a couple of months – we launched after the end of a summer vacation. We wondered if there would be any news during August?.  Coincidentally, the Top To Bottom Review commissioned by the Secretary of the State of California was just coming out – that was quite a start – the Top To Bottom Review remains an important landmark in voting integrity.

Our goals remain:

Do Not Hide Voter Information

Voting as we know it, depends on two important keys that are often difficult for the public, media, and sometimes even experts to understand.

Voting rolls and check-in lists need to be available to every citizen, young and old, so that the public can be assured that only registered voters voted, that they voted in the correct primary, that the number of ballots match the number of voters checked in, and that those checked in actually did vote. Otherwise there is no basis for trust in democracy.

Public voting rolls provide the only means for individuals and news organizations to independently investigate voting fraud; they provide officials with the credible proof that fraud is limited; and they help the public to trust in decisions by the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

 

Response to ill-advised Presidential Commission risks democracy

There is much to criticize in the Trump Commission.  Yet there is no excuse for officials to unilaterally disobey the law.  There are reasons for voting lists and voting history to be public documents.  Perhaps we can providing a teaching moment.

Russians not the only threat to our elections

Many articles on the Congressional hearings on the “Russian” hacking or not hacking of our elections.  Brad Friedman and Mark Karlin come closet to my opinions:

Recent article by Mark Karlin referencing Brad Friedman:  Beyond the Russians, Electronic Voting Machines Are Vulnerable to Any Hackers  

Journalists and activists have been sounding the alarm about electronic voting machines and their proprietary software for years. The vulnerability of these machines to hacking has not been front and center for some time — primarily due to the failure of the corporate media and legislative bodies to take it seriously. That changed, to some extent, with the charges about Russian hacking from US intelligence agencies. However, the current emphasis is on the Russians allegedly attempting to influence the 2016 election, not on the flawed electronic voting machines that make hacking possible…

Meanwhile, our Secretary of the State continues to spread myths about the safety of voting systems not connected to the internet and “tamper-proof” seals that are at best “tamper-evident”. 

We add that paper ballots are insufficient.  They need protection from tampering.  We need sufficient audits and recounts.  Audits and recounts that are comprehensive and convincing.  Audits and recounts that are transparent and publicly verifiable.f

If [Connecticut] Voting Machines Were Hacked, Would Anyone Know?

NPR story by Pam Fessler:  If Voting Machines Were Hacked, Would Anyone Know?   Fessler quotes several experts and election officials including Connecticut Assistant Secretary of the State Peggy Reeves:

Still, Connecticut Election Director Peggy Reeves told a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine panel on Monday that many local election officials are ill-equipped to handle cybersecurity threats.

“Many of our towns actually have no local IT support,” she said. “Seriously, they don’t have an IT director in their town. They might have a consultant that they call on if they have an issue. So they look to us, but we’re a pretty small division.”

Reeves said the best protection against hackers is probably the fact that the nation’s voting system isso decentralized, with different processes and equipment used in thousands of different locations.

We certainly agree with that and the cybersecurity experts quoted.

A cut below the rest: National beacon or bad example?

Every year Connecticut’s Citizen Election Program is under assault.  This year is no different.

Here is the bottom line:  The Citizen’s Election Program is a drop in the bucket.  A small percentage of what we pay for the General Assembly and its staff;  A smaller percentage of the state budget; $10 million a year compared to billions in the budget.  Just one bad decision against the people can cost us several times that $10 million.

Read more from the In These Times article: Ten Years Ago, Connecticut Got Big Money Out of Its Elections. Now Democrats Are Gutting the Program

May Post-Municipal Election Audit Drawing

A few municipalities conduct elections in May rather than November. We joined Deputy Secretary of the State Scott Bates, Assistant Secretary Peggy Reeves, and SOTS Office Interns for the drawing. Sadly, due to last year’s reduction in the audit, only one district will be audited.

We strongly object to the official press release’s characterization of Connecticut’s Post-Election Audit as “Comprehensive”. A comprehensive audit would not exempt ballots from selection for audit, it would audit the totaling of votes, and include compliance audits of all aspects of the election such as checkin lists, voter roles, and ballot security.

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