Report: Is America Ready To Vote?

Verified Voting, Common Cause, and the Brennan Center for Justice released a major report today: <press release> <report>

Is America Ready to Vote? State Preparations for Voting Machine Problems in 2008

States Get Mixed Reviews on Readiness for Voting Machine Problems — Citing Improvements, Election Experts Call for Backup Measures to Secure the Vote on Nov 4th

From the Press Release:

With millions of Americans expected to confront an array of voting technologies on Nov. 4, today election administration experts from the Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause and Verified Voting issued a 50-state report card that grades each state on its preparedness

“There’s no question that in the last few years, election officials around the country have made dramatic improvements that will make it much less likely that voters are disenfranchised due to voting system failures,” said Lawrence Norden, director of the Voting Technology Project at the Brennan Center. “Unfortunately, there is still much work to be done to ensure that every voter will get to vote and every vote will be counted if something goes wrong with voting systems on Election Day,” he stated.

Is America Ready to Vote? evaluates each state by four criteria: procedures for issuing emergency paper ballots, reconciling ballot tallies, providing paper records of votes cast, and post-election audits. The report reveals a broad range of preparedness across the country to address Election Day voting system meltdowns.

How does Connecticut rate?

Above average but certainly not among the leaders.  Here is the beginning of the table, followed by several neighbors and states of interest:

State Polling Place 

Contingency Plans

Ballot 

Reconciliation

Paper Records Post-Election 

Audits

Alabama N/A Needs Improvement Good Inadequate
Alaska N/A Generally Good* Good Good
Arizona N/A Generally Good* Good Needs Improvement
Arkansas Generally Good* Generally Good* Inadequate Inadequate
California Excellent Good Good Good
Colorado Needs Improvement Generally Good* Inadequate Needs Improvement
Connecticut N/A Generally Good* Good Needs Improvement
D.C. N/A Generally Good* Inadequate Needs Improvement
Delaware Needs Improvement Generally Good* Inadequate Inadequate
Florida N/A Good Inadequate Needs Improvement
Massachusetts N/A Generally Good* Good Inadequate
New Hampshire N/A Generally Good* Good Inadequate
New York Good Generally Good* Inadequate Inadequate
Ohio Excellent Generally Good* Good Needs Improvement

(Note: the N/A in col 2, Contingency is very good since it means no ballot contingency is necessary giveen we have paper ballots)

Some of the snippets from the report relating to Connecticut:

Ballot Reconciliation:

Connecticut’s ballot reconciliation procedures are generally good but need improvement in
specific areas.

Recommendation: Connecticut’s ballot reconciliation procedures are generally good, but need improvement in specific areas. While the state has good procedures in place for reconciling ballots at the polling place, a number of crucial reconciliation practices are not mandated by law. We recommend explicitly requiring precincts to compare the number of ballots cast with the number voter signed in at the polling place, and requiring municipal officials to tally and report election results by precinct.

We might tend to be a bit tougher, but note the scale goes from Generally Good, to Good, to Excellent.  (No state received an Excellent rating in this category.)

Post-Election Audits:

Connecticut has made recent improvements to its audit requirement but still lacks any
requirements for triggering additional audits when discrepancies are found; investigation of discrepancies by the secretary of state is discretionary. The law also lacks clarity about which contests to audit; the language references contests required to be audited by federal law, but
no federal law currently requires states to audit. Thus, it is not clear that top-of-the-ticket contests such as the presidential race will be audited. The law also exempts centrally counted ballots such as absentees.

At CTVotersCount.org, we would add more details that could be improved and loopholes to eliminate, however, we certainly agree with the “Needs Improvement” rating. The scale goes from Generally Good, to Good, to Excellent.  (No state received an Excellent rating in this category.)

Also note  that Connecticut’s Deputy Secretary of the State is acknowledged in the report:

We thank the many election officials who responded to our inquiries and, in particular, those who helped us develop our best practice guidelines, including Matthew Damschroder, Deputy Director of the Franklin County, Ohio Board of Elections; Elaine Ginnold, Registrar of Voters, Marin County, California; Leslie Mara, Deputy Secretary of State for the State of Connecticut; and Steven Weir, Registrar of Voters, Contra Costa County, California.

There are more details on Connecticut in the report.  We would also recommend looking at the color maps of the United States showing graphically how the individual states rate in each category.

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