Reports

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.

Study Shows Connecticut Municipal Websites Do Not Serve Voters

Most fail to provide information voters need to register and vote
Citizens must be better served and municipalities could save money

From the press release:

April 6, 2016: The Connecticut Citizen Election Audit released a study evaluating election information provided to voters by Connecticut’s 169 municipalities. Information was collected by volunteer evaluators just prior to the 2015 November election.

Citizen Audit spokesperson Luther Weeks stated, “Many towns do not provide the information most sought by voters across Connecticut, such as ‘What is on the ballot?’ or ‘Where do I vote?’. Many failed to inform citizens of online registration, which could increase registration and cut municipal expenses.”

Municipal website findings include:

  • Only 33% answered “What is on the ballot?”
  • Only 56% answered “Where do I vote?”
  • Only 58% provided the date of the next election.
  • Only 28% provided registration deadlines.
  • 5 provided an incorrect election date.
  • 2 provided incorrect registration information.
  • 51% had no link to Online Registration. 28% had no link to Online Registration or to a Mail-In Registration form.
  • Only 17% posted results of their 2014 election.
  • Only 15% provided Voter ID information.

Weeks said, “The Secretary of the State’s web has much of this information, yet studies show that voters go first to their local web. Registration information is important for new voters, and all voters want the election date, ‘Who is on the ballot?’, ‘Where do I vote?’ and voter ID requirements.”

The report also includes recommendations to municipalities, the Secretary of the State, and a low-cost sample website for a whimsical town, http://NutmegtonCT.wordpress.com

<Press Release (.pdf)> <Full Report (.pdf)>

Citizen Audit Cites Flaws in Official Election Audits

Again accuracy declined and write-in votes handled incorrectly
November 2015 Post-Election Audit Report

From the Press Release:

The Connecticut Citizen Election Audit has released its report on its observation of the November 2015 official post-election audits. The audits, required by state law, are intended to verify the accuracy of elections at the municipal level.

Citizen Audit spokesperson Luther Weeks stated, After 9 years of official audits, voters should expect accuracy. Yet the audits have gone from poor to worse.”

The group’s observers found that official audit results do not inspire confidence because of continued:

  • Discrepancies between machine counts and hand counts of votes reported to the Secretary of the State by municipal registrars of voters.
  • Lack of investigation of such discrepancies, and the lack of standards for triggering investigations.
  • Lack of consistency, reliability, and transparency in the conduct of the audit.
  • Weaknesses in ballot chain-of-custody and security.

The group’s report noted:

  • 28% of official audits cited “Human Error” in counting ballots and votes. Registrars of voters should be expected to take the necessary effort to count accurately.
  • Significant decreases in audit integrity, and accuracy.
  • In three towns audits detected districts where officials fed write-in ballots through scanners a second time on election night.
  • If the group’s recommendations from last year had been mandated and followed, all write-in ballots would have been counted accurately.

“Problems discovered counting write-ins two years in a row shows the value of the official audits. But the report also reveals the decline in official attention to the audits, demonstrating that independent citizen observation and reporting are essential to election integrity.” Weeks emphasized.

<Press Release .pdf> <Full Report pdf>  <Detail data/municipal reports>

Brennan Center: Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda

Whenever we open a report with multiple recommendations we start from a skeptical point of view. We expect to agree with some proposals and disagree with others.  A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice is the exception.  We agree with every recommendation:
Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda

It starts with the right criteria, it has a great agenda, strong supporting arguments, and ends with an appropriate call to action

Book Review: Ballot Battles by Edward B. Foley

I have long been a fan of the  papers and other writings of Edward B. Foley of the Moritz College of Law.  He writes extensively on the issues associated with close elections, how they have been decided since the founding of the United States, and how the process might be improved. Last month his book on the subject, Ballot Battles:The History of Disputed Elections in the United States was released.

To me, it was a highly fascinating read that kept my interest through every page. It should be required reading for anyone interested in Election Integrity

“Who Could Have Imagined” System rigged to make tests look good.

Over the years, we an others have pointed out that voting systems cannot be tested to assure performance before an election.  Not the system itself before it is setup/programmed for a particular election.  Not a setup and programmed system either.  Not even if a system is completely secured and is somehow proven to run approved/certified software.

Here is some proof, not from a voting system – from a crime by an automaker.  In this case it only puts the environment and lives in danger, rather than Democracy.

Consensus Reached on Recommendations Toward the Future of Internet Voting

Consensus Reached on Recommendations Toward the Future of Internet Voting

USVoteFoundationThe U.S. Vote Foundation has released a report on the feasibility and requirements for Internet voting. This is the result of about eighteen months of work by computer scientists, security experts, and election officials.  The goal was to answer definitively once and for all if Internet voting was feasible today or in the future.

The short version is the Internet voting is not ready for prime time, not ready for democracy. Yet, it is possible in the future that a system may be developed which could provide safe Internet voting.  The paper lays out the requirements and testing criteria for such a system.

(Internet voting includes online voting, email voting, and fax voting).

9 things about voting machines

The National Council of State Legislatures has a released a report on voting machines: Elections Technology: Nine Things Legislators May Want to Know

It makes a strong case for the importance of technology in elections, planning, and understanding the details. We especially an additional borrowed list within the report: Ten Things to Know About Selecting a Voting System

Citizen Audit Study Shows Low-Cost Way to Improve Turnout

Review of 169 municipal election websites shows election
information lacking, yet easily remedied

From the press release:

February 25, 2015. The Connecticut Citizen Election Audit released a study evaluating election information provided to voters in all 169 municipalities across Connecticut. Information was collected by volunteer evaluators in the days just prior to the 2014 November election.

Citizen Audit spokesperson Luther Weeks stated, “Many towns do not provide the information most sought by voters across Connecticut, such as ‘What is on the ballot’ or ‘Where do I vote?’. Many also failed to inform citizens of online registration, which could have saved citizens time and municipal expenses.”

Municipal website findings include:

  • Only 28% answered, “What is on the ballot?”.
  • Only 56% provided the “Date of the next election”.
  • Only 64% answered “Where do I vote?”
  • Only 15% posted results for their 2013 municipal election.
  • Many with broken links and obviously outdated information
  • Many with up-to-date event calendars and front page bulletins, listing current events, and Ebola preparations, that did not list election-day.

<Full Post and Report>

The Perfect Storm meets illegal, disasterous voting

" When hurricane Sandy hit the east coast, New Jersey exposed the vote and voters to additional risks.
New report from Rutgers:

The Perfect Storm: Voting In New Jersey In The Wake of Superstorm Sandy