CT

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.

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)>

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.

What is wrong with CT’s Election Day Registration

Late last month, we testified on  a bill, S.B. 250 that would modify Connecticut’s Election Day Registration (EDR) law. We did not testify for or against the proposed change, clearly aimed at making life easier for registrars and election day workers* at the expense of convenience to the public.  Yet there are larger problems with Connecticut’s EDR law and procedures implemented by the Secretary of the State. Here are several of those problems:

Reminder: Still time for almost any eligible citizen to vote in the Presidential Primary

  • Reminder:  The only way to be sure your vote won’t count:  Don’t Vote.  If you choose not to vote, don’t complain that we could have done better.

You may or may not be pleased with the choices in the primary, yet I would hope you would agree that it would make a difference to you between a Trump, Cruz, Rubio, or Kasich presidency and a difference to you between a Clinton or Sanders presidency.

The best day to register is today.  The easiest way to register is with online registration <online registration>

 

Testimony on Four Bills

This year we testified on four bills before the legislature. We supported two bills, and for a change opposed none. For the two we neither supported nor opposed,, we proposed changes to the same sections of the law addressed by the bills.

Citizen Audit Cites Flaws in Official Election Audits

Again accuracy declined and write-in votes handled incorrectly
November 2015 Post-Election Audit Report

From the Press Release:

The Connecticut Citizen Election Audit has released its report on its observation of the November 2015 official post-election audits. The audits, required by state law, are intended to verify the accuracy of elections at the municipal level.

Citizen Audit spokesperson Luther Weeks stated, After 9 years of official audits, voters should expect accuracy. Yet the audits have gone from poor to worse.”

The group’s observers found that official audit results do not inspire confidence because of continued:

  • Discrepancies between machine counts and hand counts of votes reported to the Secretary of the State by municipal registrars of voters.
  • Lack of investigation of such discrepancies, and the lack of standards for triggering investigations.
  • Lack of consistency, reliability, and transparency in the conduct of the audit.
  • Weaknesses in ballot chain-of-custody and security.

The group’s report noted:

  • 28% of official audits cited “Human Error” in counting ballots and votes. Registrars of voters should be expected to take the necessary effort to count accurately.
  • Significant decreases in audit integrity, and accuracy.
  • In three towns audits detected districts where officials fed write-in ballots through scanners a second time on election night.
  • If the group’s recommendations from last year had been mandated and followed, all write-in ballots would have been counted accurately.

“Problems discovered counting write-ins two years in a row shows the value of the official audits. But the report also reveals the decline in official attention to the audits, demonstrating that independent citizen observation and reporting are essential to election integrity.” Weeks emphasized.

<Press Release .pdf> <Full Report pdf>  <Detail data/municipal reports>

Help Wanted: Low pay, long hours, impossible demands, no benefits

A Courant article reminds us of an idea out of left-field enacted last year by the General Assembly as a “rat*”: Deadline Looms For Regional Election Monitors

When the Connecticut General Assembly passed the budget implementer bill in June 2015, buried in its 702 pages was the stipulation that regional election monitors be in place by March 1.

Those regional monitors were to be hired by each of the nine planning regions in the state. They would be certified by the Secretary of State’s office, but not paid by them.

Gentle reader, before you rush out and apply we note several items which might not be apparent.

Are Feds off-target in disabled ballot probe?

From the CT Post:  Feds probing how Connecticut handles disabled voters ballots

Both the IVS and the referendum systems, for different reasons, are a disservice to voters with disabilities.  Yet the gist of the probe, if the article is correct, is incorrectly aimed at referendums and would be more appropriately aimed at State and Federal elections. Perhaps both should be probed for different reasons.

Time to Hold ’em – Connecticut’s voting machines

San Francisco provides another reason for Connecticut to wait before considering new voting machines: San Francisco Examiner: San Francisco sets sights on open source voting by November 2019 <read>

“San Francisco could help write some U.S. democracy history with its leadership role,” said a Nov. 18 letter to the Elections Commission from Gregory Miller, co-founder of the Open Source Election Technology (OSET) Foundation, a collection of executives from top technology companies like Apple and Facebook. “And the total estimated cost to do so [$8 million] is a fraction of status-quo alternatives.

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