CT Law

Testimony on several bills, including the National Popular Vote Compact

Yesterday, we testified on several bills, submitting three packages of written testimony. Most of the bills were proposals for the National Popular Vote Compact. We half agree with those testifying for the Compact and half disagree. We would be in favor of a National Popular Vote with a sufficient Constitutional Amendment. We oppose the Compact. Its misfit with our presidential election laws portent chaos.

Lessons from the “recount”. What would have happened here?

The Nation, hopefully, learned some lessons about our existing “recounts” after the November Election.  We learned some disappointing lessons in three states.  We likely would have learned similar lessons in the other states that have recounts.  Remember that only about half the states have recounts at all.  What might we have learned about Connecticut’s recanvasses?

We recommend three articles and comment on Connecticut’s recanvasses.

Our best guess is that Connecticut would rank close to Pennsylvania.  Observed variations and poor recanvass procedures, with courts sooner or later. stopping or blocking the recanvass.

Is our election hackable or not?

We hear from Richard Clarke, President Obama, Pam Smith, and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.  We annotate Denise Merrill’s recent press conference.

Report: Secret Ballot At Risk

A new report from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, articulates some of the risks of losing the the Secret Ballot: Secret Ballot At Risk: Recommendations for Protecting Democracy <Exec Summary> <Report>

We recommend reading the Executive Summary and at least the section of the report covering the history of and the need for the secret ballot, pages 4-9 and the section for your state, e.g. Connecticut pages 54-55.

Our only criticism is that the report does not cover the risks to the secret ballot and democracy posed by photos, most often seen in selfies of voters with the voted ballot taken in the voting booth.  Nor does it cover the risks  to the secret ballot posed by absentee voting.

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.

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.

Little comfort in ‘C’ grade for Connecticut for Integrity

Nor more comfort that the ‘C’ ranks us 3rd in the ‘Class’ of states.

New report from the Center for Public Integrity: How does your state rank for integrity? <read>
With the Connecticut details: Connecticut gets C- grade in 2015 State Integrity Investigation <read>

Let me start by applauding the Center for the report and Connecticut reporter Jennifer Frank for her contributions to the report. I will have some suggestions and criticisms of the report, yet having created a report on 169 Connecticut elections websites I know how challenging it is to set the criteria and perform uniform objective evaluations across several entities with multiple elevators.

Common Sense: Laws must be Sufficient, Enforceable, and Enforced

In one of his books, Gerry Weinberg pointed out that employee evaluations should be multiplicative not additive, that is, the various dimensions of performance and capabilities should be multiplied rather than added to determine the overall value of an employee.

There is an analogy with laws, including election laws.  Laws must be Sufficient, Enforceable, and Enforced. Missing one of the three, all value is lost.

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>

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