National

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.

Rep. Matt Lesser exploring run for Secretary of the State

The Middletown Press and a Facebook video by Lesser indicate he is exploring a run for Secretary of the State.

To our knowledge Lesser is the 1st candidate officially filing.

Public Voting Machine Hackathon: Challenge or Sham

The worlds largest democracy has offered the public a chance to hack its unverifiable voting machines.  The details are skimpy, history does not provide confidence, and while it may be a step in the right direction it is ultimately insufficient.  See the article by George Washington University Professor Poorvi Vora: Hacking EVMs: The EC has issued a challenge. It must first accept the challenge it faces

Surprising statements by Denise Merrill and Neil Jenkins

Denise Merrill, Secretary of the State and President of the National Association of Secretaries of State and Neil Jenkins from Homeland Security spoke on NPR on election integrity.  <listen>

We disagree with both their similar statements:

.”Because our system is highly decentralized there’s no way to disrupt the voting process in any large-scale meaningful way through cyber attacks because there’s no national system to attack,” [Merrill] said Tuesday at a hearing before the U.S. Election Assistance Commission on the impact of the critical infrastructure designation.

Jenkins was quoted as saying “having thousands of elections offices each with their own systems making hacking elections nearly impossible”

NPV Forum in Greenwich

Tuesday I participated in a forum/debate on the National Popular Vote Compact. Greenwich Time has a vary fair article on the event <read>

In one of the photos I am holding a 1118 page book that is free. Instead, I recommend two books that are shorter, that are worth reading, and worth much more than you will pay for them!

I also have some comments on the uniqueness of an event where individuals claim that Connecticut voters would appreciate more money in politics.

 

Georgia on my mind. Paper not on Georgia’s radar.

Georgia and Cobb election officials are rejecting calls from advocacy groups for voters to use paper ballots while the FBI investigates a data breach at Kennesaw State University.

Voters will continue to use electronic voting machines during upcoming elections, said Candice Broce, spokesperson for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The use of paper ballots is reserved as a backup system in case there is a problem with the voting machines, she said…

Earlier this month, KSU announced a federal investigation at the Center for Elections Systems located on the Kennesaw campus to determine if there was a data breach that might have affected the center’s records, according to Tammy DeMel, spokesperson for the university.

When will they ever learn?  We firmly believe that the days of paperless elections are coming to an end. It may take a few more years, yet we believe it is unlikely that any jurisdiction in the U.S. well make a major purchases of paperless voting equipment in the future. The useful life of most paperless equipment will end within the next decade or so.

Don’t Kill the Election Assistance Commission

The new administration and state election officials have the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in their crosshairs.  It is not a watchdog agency.  The EAC is intended to help assist officials across the country share information and create voluntary standards for election systems. Many states look to and require Federal certification of election equipment.  In a stranglehold for years, the EAC was on life support until commissioners were finally appointed a couple of years back.  Efforts to update outdated standards, improve and streamline the certification process are close to fruition, yet may never be completed.

It is not just the Republicans.  It is the National Association of Secretaries of State, currently headed by Connecticut’s Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill. Good Grief! the EAC is intended to help them do their jobs.  Maybe they will change their stand this week, yet we doubt it.

Journal Inquirer Editorial and Our Response

Journal Inquirer Editorial, Monday:  ARE ILLEGAL ALIENS VOTING IN CONNECTICUT?

Our letter sent yesterday:

I agree with the sentiment but not the details of your editorial…There is a better solution…The solution is routine, independent, and publicly verifiable audits of all aspects of election administration.  With such audits, we would not be in this situation…

Election News Roundup

Several instructive articles and events this week.

  • Last week, Secretary of the State and President of NASS (National Association of Secretaries of  State) held a press conference discussing Donald Trump’s allegations of 3 Million “Illegals” Voting.  Secretary Merrill Challenges President’s Reported Claims of Illegal Voting
  • Meanwhile, at least, Connecticut is no Kansas: The Kansas Model for Voter-Fraud Bluffing
  • Here an article I generally agree with from Forbes: What The Election Can Teach Us About Cybersecurity
  • Speaking of attacks on voter databases here is a story from this fall: Hackers hit Henry County voter database

Will good help be available from Homeland Security, and will Connecticut ask for it?

The Department of Homeland Security has designated Election Infrastructure as Critical Infrastructure. We ask three questions.  We would like to see evaluations in Connecticut.

We emphasize thesee’ as secret evaluations would do little to provide the public assurance, and likely as not, would be available one way or another to those bent on using them to exploit weaknesses in the system.

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