Hartford Election Report: Sad, yet an easy recommended read.

The Hartford Common Council empowered a Committee of Inquiry to gather facts on the widely reported late opening of polls on election day, the long known disfunction in the Registrars Office, and the less reported inaccurate, yet to be corrected reports of election results.  Here is the summary.  We recommend reading the whole report. It is an easy read, yet sad, disappointing, and as some have said outrageous. <full report>

The Committee’s investigation confirmed that several Hartford polling places did not allow voting to commence at 6:00 a.m., as required by law. In addition, the investigation revealed additional irregularities. The Head Moderator failed to account for all of the absentee ballots received, failed to correctly tally and report the vote count, and failed to submit a timely Amended Head Moderator’s Return. The Hartford Registrars:

  • failed to provide the Secretary of the State (“SOTS”) with information about the polling place moderators ;
  • failed to file the final registry books with the Town Clerk by October 29
  • failed to timely prepare and deliver the final registry books by 8:00 p.m. on November 3, and thereafter failed to develop or implement a plan for delivering the books to the polling places before the polls opened at 6:00 a.m. on November 4;
  • failed to adequately prepare and open several polling places;
  • failed to maintain adequate communications among key election day personnel;
  • failed to provide the Head Moderator with the proper form to submit his Head Moderator’s Return in advance of the election;
  • failed to attend a statutorily required meeting to correct errors in the Head Moderator’s Return; and
  • failed to identify and correct discrepancies in the vote tallies reported by the Head Moderator, with the result that the final vote tally remains unclear, and no Hartford election official can explain what happened to approximately 70 absentee ballots reported as having been received

In short, multiple, serious errors plagued the administration of the 2014 General Election in Hartford. These errors appear to have resulted in the disenfranchisement of Hartford voters and, even several months later, a lack of an accurate vote count.

The Committee has determined that many of the Election Day problems are attributable to errors or omissions by certain Hartford election officials (as described in detail below); a dysfunctional working relationship among all election officials; a lack of leadership and accountability; and the absence of a clear, legally prescribed chain of command.

Once again, I recommend reading the entire report.  It really brings home the points made in the summary.

I add some additional thoughts:

  • Nobody seems interested in actually determining what happened to the “missing” ballots, or determining the actual vote count — a team could easily get all the numbers from the tape and at least determine votes for governor from the machines, which are very very likely to be less than the number of ballots counted by the machines — this report demonstrates, unsurprisingly, that people should not count anything alone, but should work together to verify addition and transcription. Double checking by “two eyes” works.
  • Some authority could also actually count all the ballots and votes by hand.  I will guarantee the number of votes per race will not exceed the number of ballots. (If the count is accurate)
  • Someone authority could actually count the number of envelopes for ABs.  Then count then number of ABs checked-off, then count the number returned on the Clerk’s log…then if there is a discrepancy, match the envelopes to the voter names on both those lists to help uncover the source of any differences.
  • How many other towns have check-in lists, or ballot counts that are way off from vote counts?  Does anybody check…or has this only surfaced because of the visible problems on election day? (We know some towns and moderators check and that others have at least sometimes not)
  • The official system has yet to a) recognize the actual counts in Bridgeport for Governor in 2010.  b) never audited the other towns in 2010 with many copied, hand counted ballots  c) Never checked other towns since then that that have had huge numbers of hand counted votes on copied ballots – even those that have chosen deliberately to forgo scanners in some elections. d) Never checked the discrepancies between voters checked-in in Bridgeport vs. ballots in 2010, or checked for such errors anywhere else!!!
  •  And, in Hartford, how about checking the reported counts that weren’t for Governor?

Make no mistake. We applaud the investigation as far as it went.  It provides plenty to consider and change.

Yet the Hartford Courant is dissatisfied with the report, apparently believes the investigation was unnecessary.  Reflection and deliberation, based on effective gathering of facts, in their opinion, seems a waste of time.  The Editorial Board would also apparently place the prime responsibility for choosing actions solely on the Mayor over the entire Council.

Thumbs down on lack of city plan to fix registrar mess-ups

Thumbs still down on Hartford’s handling of the registrar of voters mess. Mayor Pedro Segarra and city council president Shawn Wooden formed a council committee to investigate the registrars’ election day screw-ups. The committee reported Friday what everyone already knew — the registrars bungled things so badly that some polls were unable to open on time. The Friday announcement is full of indignant language — but not a peep about what the mayor plans to do about the situation. “That is being determined,” a spokesperson said. Lame.

As they and we often say,  “Diagnosis before cure”.  Lest the cure be ineffective or worse than the disease.

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