CT Law

Election Day Registration: Sadly, we told you so.

Like the rest of the U.S., Connecticut had low turn out in the November 2014 mid-terms. Much better than the national average. It is always hard to judge the cause of turnout differences in a single election.

But one thing is clear, Election Day Registration (EDR) has failed to meet the expectations of its proponents – unfortunately results were more in line with our predictions.

Connecticut not alone in election adminstration challenges

MapSince the election on November 4th we have had all sorts of complaints about Connecticut election administration. Claims that we are the slowest, with the most clueless election officials. And all sorts of cures proposed including more mail-in votes, electronic calculation of results, and reorganization of election administration.

We agree with that their are many problems. We agree with the general outlines of some of the cures. Yet, we caution against knee-jerk reaction, and change without planning and analysis.

We suggest looking at the best practices from other states. Yet, we can also learn from the mistakes and foibles of other states. Often those employing some of those very cures proposed for Connecticut.

Editorial: Diagnosis before cure. Planning before plunging ahead.

We agree in part with the other critics, that we need radical change in Connecticut election administration. Yet, we need a carefully considered approach and a deliberate implementation of change. Our recommended approach is to do for elections what we have done for probate: Regionalize, Prioritize, and Economize. It won’t be easy, simple, or cheap in the short run, yet simply moving local administration to municipal clerks as many suggest would be a band-aid, with many of the same limitations and risks of the current system.

Catching Up – More Post-Election Fallout

Starting with three more articles in the Courant on Thursday: An apology, a column, and an editorial.

Let us act deliberatly to actually improve elections

We are amazed by the number of election integrity issues raised by this election and the flurry of suggestions for improvement, led by the Hartford Courant. Yet in all the excitement and rush to judgement and improvement, among the good intentions and good ideas, there is also a misunderstanding of the system, ideas that are not feasible, uninformed, and that would make a worse system.

Final Warning: Don’t say “Who could have imagined?”

Many of our friends are on the other side of this vote. Some say the Legislature will hold hearings and do the right thing – even though they are upset at what the Legislature has done with election financing. I would support secure in-person early voting, but that is not on the ballot and unlikely to be the result of a “Yes” vote.

How can we vote on Internet that is unsafe for banks, Canada, and alarms the President?

Recent articles highlight the folly and blind faith in technology leading many to trust voting on the Internet.

As Roosevelt said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” seems to apply here.

There are real cyber risks, we need to protect or digital assets. Yet it does not help to jump to the conclusion that every breech is the work of our biggest enemy of the moment.

Like building new civic centers, baseball stadiums, and bankrolling fishing and hunting retailers there is plenty of real world evidence that Internet voting does not work well, yet we persist despite the evidence. Apparently the technology that actually works to protect Democracy, a technology actually under assault in Connecticut, is Freedom of Information.

Two Reminders: Transparency and the Limits of All Paper Elections

This week we have had two demonstrations of themes we have discussed in theory at CTVotersCount.
From Connecticut, the importance of transparency.
From abroad the limits of paper only elections.

Editorial: Improve Turnout By Making Voting Worthwhile

It seems that turnout is the holy grail of elections. Many election reforms are justified on a claim, true or not, that the reform will increase turnout. But, turnout is more a symptom of democracy, than an end in itself.

We have some suggestions to consider:

  • Make it easier for third-party candidates to get on the ballot, easier to qualify for public financing. Let us start with a level playing field for public financing, and officials that follow the law, with a “Chief Election Official” with actual responsibility for elections.
  • Reform the decentralized partisan election system.
  • Eliminate the “Spoiler” effect, provide more democracy, with a true runoff election when one candidate does not get 50_% of the vote.

Let us recall that in this generation, two third-party “spoilers” did win elections in Connecticut: Governor Lowell Weicker, and Senator Joe Lieberman.

An afternoon at the Recount(?)

On June 24th there was a third budget referendum in Colchester, CT. There were separate questions for the town budget and the Board of Education budget, both previously twice voted down. This time the town budget passed by a margin of twelve votes and the BOE squeaked by with a margin of four votes.

This was actually the first time I have attended a recount in Connecticut. In the past I have attended about eight recanvasses. Every time, I have attended a recanvass, either as a member of the public or representing a party or slate, I have learned something. Most often a few good ideas, and new ways not to run a recanvass. This was an exception, I only learned good things. It was a thoroughly effective recount in all regards, and educational for me.

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