Letter: Feedback after first meeting of the Election Performance Task Force

Elections Performance Task Force Coverage <next> <prev>

Today we provide our initial feedback to Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill’s Election Process Task Force with a cover letter and several pages of suggestions. <read>

As we said in the cover letter:

Having reviewed the video, minutes, and the proposed items to be addressed by the task force, we offer the attached general and specific comments and suggestions in a constructive spirit, to forward your efforts to achieve the democratic goals that we all hold dear.

We especially applaud the open and transparent publication of announcements and information on the Secretary of the State’s web site…

CTVotersCount intends to comment further as the Task Force and our research progress. We invite the Task Force and individual members to request further details, clarifications, or to provide criticism of our suggestions at any time.

Information, video replays, transcripts, agenda’s, and the schedule of meetings can be found at the Secretary of the State’s web site <here>

Election Performance Task Force

The Election Performance Task Force has been convened by the Secretary of the State to review and evaluate our election system in order to ensure that elections in Connecticut are fair, accountable, efficient, cost-effective, and work to encourage broad-based voter participation.

We will:

– Examine Connecticut’s current electoral system.  What is working well?  What are its weak points?

– Identify measures that will increase efficiency and effectiveness of the voting process while maintaining its security and integrity.

– Provide future direction for our electoral process: given demographic and other trends, what should our system look like in five years? In ten years?  

– Evaluate ways to integrate technology into our election systems.  What is in use elsewhere?  What offers the greatest value-added to election administrators? To voters’ experience?

– Find ways to increase voter participation among ethnic minority groups and young people.  Are there policies in place elsewhere that are working to achieve this goal?

The public is encouraged to submit feedback and ideas to the task force via email to electionperformancetaskforce@ct.gov.

Update: In an interview with the Examiner, after the 1st Task Force meeting, the Secretary described her goals for the Task Force, her concerns with the operation of the current system, and the difficulty of changing it when the weaknesses are not apparent: <read>

Examiner: What will you be doing between now and the next General Assembly session?

Between now and January

Denise: I’ve already launched two task forces. One is on election performance. I want to follow up on some of the problems we identified. We’ve taken some steps to standardize things but I think there’s a lot more we could do. We met this morning and we’re going to look at new technologies in voting, early voting, online voting, online voter registration, and all these kinds of things that would be improvements to our system. That will probably continue for about six months and we’ll probably have some legislative initiatives next session on that. And the other group I’ve convened is called the “Civics Health Index.” I’m very interested in what I’m calling a crisis in civic engagement. I think a lot of people are very concerned about the state of our civic institutions of all kinds. Where are the next generation of voters going to come from? So how do we get young people involved? How do we keep our democracy healthy? A very interesting group has convened around this issue. They will issue a report and have some recommendations on some action to take. We’ve got about 40 people on this group. We’ve gotten some terrific feedback. We’ve really tapped in to something people are very concerned about. The power of politics, the lack of voter participation and civic engagement of all kinds is really bothering people so I hope we can start a really positive conversation on that.

Examiner: Do you think that your predecessor [former Connecticut Secretary of the State and now U.S. Senate candidate Sue Bysiewicz]—some of these changes might have been made in times past—do you think you took over an office that was in good shape as far as the elections process?

Denise: I think that elections are a funny area of the law. When everything is going right nobody notices it at all. Its only when things go wrong that it gets attention and I’m not sure anybody could have anticipated this. I’m not sure, given how much trouble I’ve had even, getting some of this through the legislature, imagine trying that if there hasn’t been a problem. I’m not sure if anyone would have listened. It’s difficult. Local registrars and local officials jealously guard their powers and this was not easy to make them understand. I would like to see us reform our entire election system, frankly.  I don’t think there’s enough accountability in the system. And I think some of those weaknesses showed.

Update: 09/14/2011: Today our report was sent from the Secretary of the State’s Office to the Taskforce members.

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