Post-Election Audits

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>

Brennan Center: Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda

Whenever we open a report with multiple recommendations we start from a skeptical point of view. We expect to agree with some proposals and disagree with others.  A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice is the exception.  We agree with every recommendation:
Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda

It starts with the right criteria, it has a great agenda, strong supporting arguments, and ends with an appropriate call to action

Essex students assist Secretary in random drawing


Yesterday we observed the random drawing of 68 districts and alternate districts for the post-election audit. Just as last time, it was an effective and educational event for all those present and participating. After each district was drawn they were marked on an map of the State. See the <press release> for more details and a list of the districts chosen.

September Primary Post-Election Audit Drawing

Yesterday, Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill, conducted a random drawing of 15 districts for post-election audit of the September 2015 primary. There were 143 districts in the primary, yielding 15 as 10%. Several of the districts were exempt from selection (but not from determining the 10%) based on close vote recanvasses.

Statistician battles government to determine whether vote count is flawed

“Paper receipts are the obvious answer,Florida gave recounts a bad name. But there is something much worse than a recount: the utter inability to recount votes, and reconstruct voters’ true intent, in light of a serious computer error.”

Actually slightly worse and even more suspicious might be having paper ballots and being barred from using them to verify elections.

Too Reliable Computers: A threat to life and to democracy!

Most people are aware of the risks of unreliable computers, yet tend to be oblivious to the distinct risk of too reliable computers.  If computers were as unreliable as people, we would not be at risk of excess trust and overconfidence.

One particular anecdote from lasts night’s Newshour highlights the risks of computers that are too reliable, yet not perfect.  When it comes to medicine (or robotic weapons) too reliable computers can cause harm, including death.  When it comes elections too reliable computers can kill democracy.

S.B. 1051: Too much, too little, too risky

Last week the Government Administration and Elections Committee passed a modified version of S.B. 1051, hailed by the Secretary of the State and ROVAC (Registrars Of Voters Association of Connecticut) as a ‘bipartisan’ compromise.

Yet, all the compromising seems to be the agreement of election officials on a bill that would make registrars jobs easier while adding largely undefined and unchecked powers for the current and future Secretaries of the State.

CORRECTED: Testimony On Five Bills

Monday I testified to the Government Administration and Elections Committee on five elections bills. For one bill and against four others.

Most of the testimony was on the Secretary of the State’s bill, S.B. 1051, that would turn elections over to a single registrar in each town under the direction of an official appointed by the town council or similar body.

Testimony on two well-intended, yet (hopefully) fatally flawed bills

A week ago Friday, I testified against two well-intended, flawed bills that hopefully will not go forward.  One illustrates a terribly written bill that may have some underlying merit, yet leaves the public with no opportunity to understand the merits, the risks, and propose reasonable solutions.  The other intended to save work for registrars of voters, would not save much work at the expense of the voters and pollworkers.

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