Secretary of the State convenes “Elections Performance Task Force”

Elections Performance Task Force Coverage <next>

Press Release:

For Immediate Release: For more information:
July 20, 2011 James Spallone: (860) 509-6212
Press Release-

Merrill Convenes Election Performance Task Force
Group to Recommend Improvements to State’s Election System

Hartford: Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today convened an Election Performance Task Force to review Connecticut’s election system and recommend improvements.

“The mission of this task force is to review our current election system, evaluate its effectiveness and recommend changes to improve and modernize the system,” says Merrill, Connecticut’s top elections official. “We need to look at our system from the perspective of the average voter. For example, is there a way to improve their experience at the polls? Do voters want more convenience? We also plan to look at new, innovative technologies that could make life easier for our local officials.”

“We need to imagine what the voting experience can be like five or ten years from now if we make the right decisions today,” Merrill said.

The task force began its work with a discussion of baseline data on voter registration and turnout rates, as well as a review of Connecticut’s current elections system. The review covered the roles of registrars of voters, town clerks, the Office of the Secretary of the State and the State Elections Enforcement Commission in Connecticut’s decentralized elections system. Merrill asked the group to consider a number of questions including: Why do certain individuals choose not to vote? Why are there turnout disparities among various populations? Are there barriers to registration and voting that discourage people? What is working in other states to improve participation and why?

Merrill said the group will study potential reforms including online voter registration, Election Day or “same day” registration, absentee ballot reform, mail-in voting, regional voting centers and changes designed to bring more consistency to the system across town and city lines.

At its next meeting, the task force will view demonstrations of new voting and elections administration technology.

All task force meetings will be open to the public and may be viewed on CT-N. The Office of the Secretary of the State will be posting information about the task force on its web site at www.ct.gov/sots<http://www.ct.gov/sots>.

MEMBERS OF THE SECRETARY OF THE STATE’S ELECTION PERFORMANCE TASK FORCE

* Denise Merrill, Secretary of the State

* James F. Spallone, Deputy Secretary of the State

* Tony Esposito, President of the Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut and Registrar of Voters, Hamden

* Judi Beaudreau, Registrar of Voters, Vernon

* Urania Petit, Registrar of Voters, Hartford

* Therese Pac, Town Clerk, Bristol

* Lisa Valenti, Town Clerk, North Branford

* Kachina Walsh-Weaver, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities

* Brian Sear, First Selectman, town of Canterbury

* Cheri Quickmire, Common Cause

* Carol Young-Kleinfeld, Connecticut League of Women Voters

* Shannon Clark Kief, State Elections Enforcement Commission

* Kevin Ahern, State Elections Enforcement Commission (alternate)

* Steve Carbo, Demos

* Professor Heather Gerken, Yale Law School

* Professor Bilal Sekou, University of Hartford

* John Murphy, Coventry

* Attorney Richard Bieder

We appreciate that that these issues deserve full exploration and discussion.  Especially considering the implications of Connecticut’s “decentralized elections system”.  We note an emphasis  on  voter convenience and making “life easier for our local officials”. These are laudable goals, however, these should be balanced with an equal emphasis on voting integrity, transparency, and “counting every vote”, providing voters with justified confidence in the system. We wish the task force well and hope that all relevant goals will be considered.

While the task force plans to “look at new, innovative technologies”  it includes no experts on technology or security.

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