Little comfort in ‘C’ grade for Connecticut for Integrity

Nor more comfort that the ‘C’ ranks us 3rd in the ‘Class’ of states.

New report from the Center for Public Integrity: How does your state rank for integrity? <read>
With the Connecticut details: Connecticut gets C- grade in 2015 State Integrity Investigation <read>

Let me start by applauding the Center for the report and Connecticut reporter Jennifer Frank for her contributions to the report. I will have some suggestions and criticisms of the report, yet having created a report on 169 Connecticut elections websites I know how challenging it is to set the criteria and perform uniform objective evaluations across several entities with multiple elevators.

It is interesting viewing the details for Connecticut, other  states, and also to see the criteria and evaluation methods. My comments:

  • No state got an A or a B.
  • I do not feel as comfortable as some might think, living in Connecticut, one of only three states getting a ‘C’.
  • Especially sad that the state with the first FOI law, once the envy of other states and countries gets an ‘F’ on FOI, worse that poor score ranks us 7th in the Nation !
  • Electoral Oversight is interesting for its criteria which has only a partial relationship with our work in Election Integrity, which I would include in a comprehensive report on State Integrity.The report section on Election Oversight is focused mainly on if the state has an independent oversight entity and how that agency functions.I appreciate our State Elections Enforcement Commission and the staff there, especially when they stick their necks out in politically challenging situations. Yet, I would quibble with some of the criteria or  the exact ratings.  As the reports states the SEEC is resource constrained – some investigations are completed quickly others have been on the books  for years with no resolution, and possibly no substantial investigation to date. (Complaints and actions short of complete investigation are apparently not open to public access)I note that for Connecticut and at least some other states, all the information was compiled by one person per state, and since it is subjective might be limited by that’s person’s understanding of the items rated and their evaluation of what they were provided.I would rather have a category like Election Integrity and a sub-category such as Evidence Based Elections including criteria such as ‘Voter Verified Paper Records/Ballots’, ‘Post-Election Audits’, ‘Recounts’, ‘Election Records Security’, ‘Public Access to Election Records’, ‘Public Observation of Elections’, and ‘Election Officials Protected from Interference’.

There is one sub-category relevant to Election Integrity included under the generally relevant category of Election Oversight: “In practice, statewide election data are accessible to the public in open data format.”  In the case of Connecticut it scores the state at 25% on the category which is poor, yet I would agree, reasonable for what Connecticut provides.  You can click categories and they list the criteria, and under the criteria you can click and get exactly what they found for the state. E.g. for election data:

EXPLANATION

Election returns and voter turnout from 2014 are available online on the website of the Secretary of the State’s (SOTS) office. The state does not release election results by precinct, but by municipality, down to each state House district. Results, which are handwritten by the town clerk, head moderator, or other voting official, include information, town by town, on results for any constitutional amendment questions, and the number of absentee ballots issued by the town clerk, the number of absentee ballots received and the number rejected. These results are available for download in pdf format only.

CRITERIA

A 100 score is earned if election returns and turnout are available online and can be easily accessed, downloaded in bulk, and in a machine readable format. The information must be broken down to the precinct level, with files that track the issuance and return of absentee ballots. A 50 score is earned if such information cannot be easily accessed and/or downloaded in bulk, but it can be downloaded in machine-readable format. A 0 score is earned if such information is not available online or it is but it cannot be downloaded.

SOURCE

Website of the Secretary of the State, (accessed June 10, 2015), LINK?a=3172&q=525432 Interview by phone and email exchange, Av Harris, communications director for the Secretary of the State’s Office, April 7, 2015. Email exchange, Tyler Kleykamp, Connecticut Chief Data Officer, Feb. 16, 2015

 

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