Recounts/Recanvasses

What’s the matter with Wisconsin (and almost every state?)

Recent Headlines:

Wisconsin: Walker makes it harder for candidates to get a recount in close races

Former Trump Advisor: Scott Walker Has ‘Rigged’ 5 Elections 

Editorial: What is wrong with this picture? 

Just a step in the right direction: Merrill meets with Homeland Security

“Yesterday, along with representatives from the state’s information technology and public safety departments, I met with regional officials from the United States Department of Homeland Security to discuss how we can work together to ensure that Connecticut elections are safe from outside interference or manipulation. We had a productive meeting and I look forward to working together in the months and years to come to protect our elections, the bedrock of our democracy.” – Denise Merrill, Connecticut Secretary of the State

We applaud this step in the right direction.  Last year as leader of the National Association of Secretaries of State, Merrill opposed the designation of elections as critical infrastructure, leading in expressing the concern for a Federal take-over of elections. We were critical of that stand then and remain so.

In our opinion this is just a step. There are several aspects to election security/integrity that should be addressed,. This  step may assist in those that are under direct control of the of the the State, yet less so those under local control.

We need recounts for more than fair elections, for more than Russian risks.

CNN:  For fair elections … can we get a recount?

We should not ignore calls for audits, recounts, and paper ballots just because the motivator for those calls may be simplistic.  There are a multitude  of risks beyond Russians, beyond foreigners, beyond skullduggery. Its not just fairness, it is accuracy and democracy.

The United States should make ballots verifiable—or go back to paper.

Article in The Atlantic: The Case for Standardized and Secure Voting Technology 

It’s time to fix the voting process.

American voting systems have improved in recent years, but they collectively remain a giant mess. Voting is controlled by states, and typically administered by counties and local governments. Voting laws differ depending on where you are. Voting machines vary, too; there’s no standard system for the nation.

Accountability is a crapshoot. In some jurisdictions, voters use machines that create electronic tallies with no “paper trail”—that is, no tangible evidence whatsoever that the voter’s choices were honored. A “recount” in such places means asking the machine whether it was right the first time.

We need to fix all of this.

What can we learn from a jurisdiction in NY that hand-counts every vote?

I recently attended a presentation by Columbia County, NY, Election Commissioner Vivian Martin on the post-election audit/recount performed after every election.  It should be of interest to every citizen concerned with trust in elections and every election official: “You Can’t Count Paper Ballots”  Want to bet?  

After every election (using optical scanners) they count every ballot a second time by hand.  What can we learn in Connecticut, “The Land of Steady Habits?

We are not necessarily convinced that we need to go as far as Columbia County.  Yet, Connecticut needs a much stronger, more comprehensive, transparent audit; we need a stronger more transparent chain-of-custody; a more uniform, higher quality recanvass.  There is no reason, other than “we have always done it this way”, for our current post-election schedule.  We could perform rigorous automatic recounts rather than recanvasses; we need more to declare and perform recounts/recanvasses. We could emulate other states and perform audits shortly after the election, delaying rigorous/adversarial recounts to later and providing weeks for their completion.

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.

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.

What We Worry? What Could Go Wrong On Election Day?

America’s elections are run entirely on the honor system. What could possibly go wrong?

Courant stands for election integrity ( with Windsor/Hartford log of events)

Such questions must be answered so that all voters can have faith in the integrity of the system.

We would add to the Courant’s concern in this obvious and difficult situation, that part of the cure is more attention to detail ahead of time and in every election, this close or not. Learning from experience and reducing the odds of lingering questions.

Basics you need to know about election integrity in fifteen minutes

Kevin O’Neill, Capitol Thinking, interviews the authors of Broken Ballots – Will Your Vote Count, Prof Doug Jones and Dr. Barbara Simons <podcast> When it comes to elections and verifiability, Doug Jones and Barbara Simons are true experts that everyone can understand.

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