Post-Election Audits

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.

Citizen Audit Cites Improvements, Faults Flaws, in Official Election Audits

SOTS Office makes improvements, significant Registrars of Voters flaws continue

Improvements noted by the Citizen Audit include:

  • Small, yet significant improvements in and corrections to the Official Audit Procedures made by the Secretary of the State’s Office (SOTS Office) at the request of the Citizen Audit.
  • Increased integrity and credibility of the audit based on a Citizen Audit of the random drawing of districts and races. (As reported separately on 1/21/2015)
    • Significantly fewer errors in the random drawing list in November 2014 compared to November 2013.
    • Public and transparent drawing of races to be audited after the November election.

The audit observation report concluded that the official audit results do not inspire confidence after eight years and fourteen audits, because of the continued:

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

The audit observations also uncovered tabulator errors and inadequate election procedures which cause some votes for registered write-in candidates to not be counted.

Citizen Audit spokesperson Luther Weeks stated, “We appreciate improvements made by the Secretary of the State’s Office. We remain disappointed after eight years that significant improvements remain to achieve a credible audit, especially by local election officials, in too many municipalities.

<Full Report (.pdf)> <Press Release>
Detail data/municipal reports <Nov> <Aug>

2nd Graders Draw 77 Districts for Audit - Secretary Draws Races for Audit

2nd Graders Draw 77 Districts for Audit – Secretary Draws Races for Audit

DrawingYesterday, four members from the Citizen Audit attended the random drawing of districts and races for the November 2014 post-election audit. The districts were drawn by 2nd graders of Gilead Elementary School in Hebron.

Op-Ed: End Exemptions To Post-Election Audits

[I]t doesn’t make sense that the Connecticut’s post-election audit law exempts all votes on questions, election day registration, originally hand-counted ballots and absentee ballots from our post-election audit. Election integrity and public confidence demand that all ballots be subject to random selection for audit. Exempt ballots already determine many elections, while the number and percentage of exempt ballots is growing.

Op-Ed for Connecticut Citizen Election Audit published today at CTNewsJunkie

Random Drawing: 68 Districts in 40 Municipalities Selected for Post-Election Audit

Two members of the Citizen Audit Board assisted the Secretary of the State by randomly drawing 68 districts in 40 municipalities across Connecticut for the post-election audit.

See the Press Release from the SOTS Office.

Common Sense: [How] Do you know if your vote counted?

The Citizen Audit has just opened up our signup for the audits for the primary, which start fifteen days after the primary. The primary is August 12th, so the audits will begin Aug 27th.

Q: So, why bother signing to spend a day observing the audits?
A: To understand and the question ” [How] Do you know if your vote counted?”

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 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.

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