NewCanaan: Patch Voter Guide to Secretary of the State candidates

Covering candidate statements, qualifications and several questions, including one question on voting: <read>

How would you use technology to increase access to public information and make it easier to vote? Would you implement online voting? Why or why not?

Farrell: As the Commissioner of Consumer Protection, I have used technology — electronic forms, online licensing — to make state government more efficient and less costly.  I have saved the taxpayers millions of dollars, in that way, and would implement all of those plans again at the Secretary of the State’s office.  Note that, while my opponent may talk of doing similar things, I am the only one who actually has experience doing so and can immediately start implementing technology, to increase access to public information, lower costs, and make interacting with government more convenient. Unfortunately, there are a variety of roadblocks that prevent voting online. Because elections must be free of the possibility of fraud, every method of voting must have a “paper trail”, where, even if initially tabulated by a computer, there is still an actual paper ballot to examine if there is a question of fraud. I believe that the next Secretary should work to ensure that the current voting machines continue to function and that we find ways to 1) assist the disabled in voting (an issue where we are not in full compliance with the law) and 2) ensure that the ballots cast by our military overseas are counted.

Merrill: One of my top priorities will be making it easier to vote. I believe that our voting system must keep pace with the mobility of the society and the technological advances in information systems.  Although we have made strides over the past 10 years in creating a statewide voter database, it could be greatly enhanced and made more accessible to the public.  We must increase the use of electronic voter registration by making it easier to register online, using fillable forms that could readily be placed into the statewide file.  Online voting might be possible in time, however, there are significant issues with privacy and security that would have to be overcome.  Paramount is the integrity of the ballot.  I would alternatively support streamlining the absentee ballot process, as other states such as Oregon have, with “no excuse” absentee balloting and possibly a system of “early voting” as in Florida, both of which have been shown to increase voter participation. Both would probably require a constitutional amendment.   I would also consider same-day registration to vote provided we have an effective statewide voter file.

We are pleased that both candidates recognize the risks of associated with online voting. Like most fast food, expanded mail-in voting and internet voting are appealing, yet not so good for us.

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