CT Law

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>

WNPR Where We Live: Inside Cyber Security

Yesterday, Where We Live, with John Dankowski, was a discussion of Cyber Security for consumers and business.

At about 17:49 into the show, I called in and reminded John Dankoski of the Secretary of the State’s Symposium on Online voting that he moderated just over three years ago. In response to my comment, Professor Bryan Ford of Yale, gave a very thorough summary of the potential risks of Internet voting.

Ambitious agenda should be reasoned and well-planned

In today’s print edition of the Courant, one in a series of editorials setting an agenda for the State, Agenda 2015: Ambitious Goals For The State, one portion focuses on elections,

We diverge from the Courant in our opinion. We continue to point out that the most comprehensive system of election administration reform would be to regionalize elections, obtaining some of the same benefits obtained by regionalizing probate.

Also, Professionalization does not include ignoring science. There is a reason we do not connect our scanners to the internet to report results.

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.

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