Testimony: Polling Place Posting, Enforcement, Early Voting, and Internet Voting

Yesterday, in the midst of the gun control hearings drawing a couple thousand, we spent an hour and a half in a snowy entrance line to testify on two bills before the Government Elections and Administration Committee. We had planned on testifying on H.B. 5600, however, with many testifying on H.J. 16, I offered additional information to the Committee on that bill and on Internet voting, which was also discussed.

H.B. 5600, generically titled “AN ACT CONCERNING THE REGISTRARS OF VOTERS” dealt with three items:

  • Requiring towns to provide Internet access for all Registrars of Voters
  • Requiring the posting of voter ID requirements at all polling places
  • Increasing the authority of the Secretary of the State by making procedures and directives enforceable by the State Elections and Enforcement Comission

We testified in favor of all three concepts. <testimony>.

  • Hard to imagine it, yet some towns do not provide Internet access in this day and age, even with it is available town staff.
  • Posting voter ID requirements is to provide uniformity such that voters are not illegally turned away or illegally allowed to vote. I suggested that lists of registered write-in candidates should also be posted.
  • In general we welcome more enforcement, yet the text of the proposed bill is in some areas two broad and in others too narrow. I also needs some further work to assure clarity and transparency. (Read the testimony)

H.J. 16 is the Constitutional Amendment from last year that needs to be approved again by this Legislature and then Connecticut voters in 2014 “RESOLUTION APPROVING AN AMENDMENT TO THE STATE CONSTITUTION TO GRANT INCREASED AUTHORITY TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY REGARDING ELECTION ADMINISTRATION.”

The amendment would allow the Legislature to specify early voting such as in-person early voting or no-excuse absentee voting. We assumed, incorrectly, that there would be little discussion and that major debates would occur in 2015 if the amendment passes.

Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill, made a brief statement summarizing and supporting the bill which lead to perhaps forty-five minutes of pro and con questioning by the Committee, which also included questions on the largely unrelated topic of Internet voting for the Military. Others added testimony on the bill as well.

Scrapping most of my prepared remarks, I dedicated about half of my allocated three minutes to H.J. 16 and Internet voting. I provided the committee with information on the risks, costs, and value of various early voting methods, Internet voting, and how Connecticut might best serve all Overseas voters, including the Military.

The Committee was very attentive and open to considering my testimony: <testimony>

  • Especially the sources of the information that all forms of early voting decrease turnout. I promised to followup with links to the references.
  • I suggested following the example of Minnesota which had the greatest success in serving overseas voters, without risky, expensive, and ineffective Internet voting.
  • I reaffirmed my support of polling place Election Day Registration (EDR), its potential to increase turnout, while also reaffirming my prediction of disappointing results and concerns for very long lines.

Update: CT-N video, my testimony is about 75% of the way in <watch>

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