Election Wrap-Up: Got one right, one wrong, and “Who Could Have Imagined”

Can Hartford registrars do more than complain?

We have read several articles on the Hartford problem this year, here is an example:  Official: Hartford Mixup A Failure Of ‘Election 101’ <read> To us its also a failure of leadership 101 and customer service 101.

When I am part of a system that makes an error, I apologize to the customers (voters). If I am part of the problem, I vow to fix the problem so it won’t happen again. In fact, I did both on election day when I lead Election Day Registration in my town. We served the voters but unnecessarily  slowly, the system required them to use EDR when they did every thing right to be registered earlier.

The Courant and I disagree on how to fix the problems in Hartford. Letting the Town Council select registrars is not a cure. However, three people each fully charged with responsibility should not have missed this one.

At once it is less than and worse than Bridgeport in 2010. This had less impact on the election, less extended concern  However, Bridgeport in 2010 was less of a leadership 101 failure.  Bridgeport was caused by an initial miss-estimate of ballot orders, followed by a string of inadequate reactions that cascaded into a challenging, ineffectively handled situation.

Eating Some Tasty Crow. We got one wrong!

We predicted the Constitutional Amendment would pass  “The Constitutional Amendment will pass with a moderate margin 10%-20%”.  There are stories all over about why it did not for good and not so good reasons. We suspect that “Trust the Legislature to do the right thing” was not a winning argument. Yet also, many voters did not vote on the question. We suggest that is just another indication of the poor design of our lever-like paper ballots. Other states have much more readable ballots, making it easier to understand, and avoid missing questions.

Of course, that prediction was way back at the beginning of this month, two days before the election, but here is an old one:

We Got It Right On Election Day Registration, “Who could have imagined?” We did.

We long opposed the bill because it was a hokey, unproven way, of doing Election Day Registration, much more difficult and less likely to be successful that that implemented for years in other states. In fact, we opposed in it way back in 2010: Inadequate Election Day Registration Pilot Nixed we said:

We are conditionally for * Election Day Registration and opposed this inadequate bill in our testimony earlier this year. Our opposition was based on authorizing a pilot program with inadequate evaluation provisions, piloting an inadequate, disenfranchising voting method

We were not alone, others said at that time:

“What a nightmare it is for them, logistically, to implement this,” Sen. Daniel Debicella of Shelton, the ranking Republican senator on the Democrat-controlled Appropriations Committee, said.

Primaries are meant to allow political parties to resolve their respective nominations for offices, said Rep. Deborah Heinrich, D-Madison, adding she fears the bill would lead to a mass of last-minute registrations from voters interested only in casting a primary ballot, and not in remaining with their new party. “I don’t see that exactly as the system working,” she said.

Further we strongly opposed the Secretary of the State’s interpretation of the law, that does not allow those in line at 8:00pm to register and vote.  With others, I lobbied unsuccessfully in the background that everyone in line at 8:00pm should be able to register and vote. I argued and got agreement from prominent civil right lawyers that it is a civil rights violation, just waiting to happen.

And it did happen.  <read>

The registrar’s office was not staffed enough to handle the crowd of new voters, and the line was cut off at 8 p.m. at the Clerk’s office and anyone who was inside could continue registering and voting.

Not sure that they followed the Secretary’s directive that the whole process be complete for the citizen to be able to vote.

Citizens were denied the opportunity to vote, based on inadequate preparations by officials,  unpredicted volumes of citizens wishing to legally participate in democracy, and by the 8:00pm cutoff.

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Update: 2/20/2015  Who Could Have Imagined…not even CTVotersCount

As noted above we imagined the problem in New Haven that would disenfranchise voters on election night 2015.  Yet, we could not imagine the result would be praise and self-congratulations.  The New Haven Register reports the press conference: State Praises New Haven’t same-day voter registration <read>

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill swung by City Hall Friday to deliver a citation honoring the fact that New Haven accommodated the most Election Day voter registrations out of any Connecticut municipality, totaling more than 600.

“Election Day registration is designed to increase voter participation and the last election was the state’s first big one,” Merrill said as she stood alongside Mayor Toni Harp, City Clerk Michael Smart and staffers from the registrar’s office. “More than 14,000 were able to vote who wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, because they had not been on the list for whatever reason, and chose to recognize their right to vote on Election Day.”

Merrill said New Haven’s final tally for same-day registrations was 616 but acknowledged that many were turned away once the 8 p.m. deadline hit. She said several proposals have been introduced in the state legislature that are aimed at speeding up the same-day registration process.

 

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