Testimony on Early Voting and Absentee Voting Bills

Yesterday I submitted testimony on four bills before the GAE (General Administration and Elections Committee.) (Read my testimony here)

I was pleased to learn that Secretary of the State, Stephanie Thomas generally agreed with me and that she called out my testimony in hers!

It was clear before I spoke that the Committee understood my main points, so I asked them to read the testimony and spent my three minutes discussing additional thoughts:

Early Voting in Connecticut – Part 5 – Choices and Disappointments

This is the fifth in a series on Early Voting in Connecticut. See <Part 4 – Electronic Pollbooks>

In this post we will cover the choices for implementing Early Voting facing the General Assembly along with the disappointments associated with each choice.

Disappointments are based on the expectations outlined in our first post. See <Part 1 – Expectations>

Option 1 – Fourteen or So Long Days of Early Voting Places
Option 2 – Four to Six Days, Six to Seven-Hour Early Voting Days
Option 3 – In-Person Absentee Voting

Why follow California and Colorado to massive early in-person early voting for just 5% of voters who could all easily choose to vote by mail or on Election Day?  Why not benefit/save from their experience, before they do?  Start slow, gain experience, add mail-in voting, and learn from our own experience…

Early Voting in Connecticut – Part 3 – New Voting Machines

This is the third in a series on Early Voting in Connecticut. See <Part 2 – Implementing Change> See <Part 4 – Electronic Pollbooks>

In this post we will cover New Voting Machines – Why, How, and When we should implement new voting systems.

Why New Voting Machines

The simple answer is for two reasons..

Stay tuned, we plan at least one more post before we get to the choices for implementing in-person Early Voting.

Early Voting in Connecticut – Part 1 – Expectations

Having passed the Early Voting Constitutional Amendments in November, everyone expects the General Assembly will pass implementing legislation in 2023 and give some time for officials to implement it, i.e. the Secretary of the State’s Office to detail procedures and registrars to implement them.

We plan a series of posts. Today we will start with the expectations of various groups, as we understand them.


We can only speculate what voters expect, certainly they are not a homogeneous group. They have read and seen in the news that Connecticut is one of only four states that do not support some form of early voting (in-person early voting and/or no-excuse mail-in voting). They likely understand that this amendment only authorizes in-person early voting…

Ranked-Choice Voting, Ned Lamont, and Connecticut

Last week, in return for an endorsement, Ned Lamont endorsed Ranked-Choice Voting Minor party endorses Lamont after a pledge for election reform

Monte Frank got one thing right that we have not seen recognized by anyone before:…

As I said in my testimony summary:

I am open to the benefits of IRV. Yet, I have several reservations about the use of IRV in Connecticut and other states. I support a comprehensive study of all IRV, RCV, and related options along with the challenges of implementing them in Connecticut. 

I remain skeptical of all the touted benefits and if Connecticut voters are ready for the associated complexity, costs, and delays. For more see my testimony.

A flawed new version of Risk Limiting Audit bill moves forward in the General Assembly

Last month I wrote about S.B.472 for Risk Limiting Audits, despite all but unanimous testimony that the bill was highly flawed, a flawed substitute was passed shortly thereafter by the General Administration and Elections Committee. Last week that revised bill became available on the web, allowing public scrutiny. There is a Word version and a .pdf version, the .pdf version has a fiscal note and an Office of Legislative (OLR) analysis.

It is revised from the original with some improvements, yet remains ambiguous and confusing, although now it may be closer to an actual Risk Limiting Audit. I question if the person(s) who wrote this updated bill had or took advantage of review by anyone familiar with the science of Risk Limiting Audits. Considering the fiscal note and the OLR Analysis, it seems to me that the description in some cases reads things into the bill that do not seem to be reflected in the bill. In particular, it assumes costs and roles for UConn that are not clear in the bill. Costs and roles that would be consistent with the prototype last year, but not obvious in the bill that would become law.

Why doesn’t anyone know what a voting machine costs?

We recently hosted a discussion on the Price of Voting Machines. Now an article in Politico gives the background story.

Politico: One Man’s Quest to Break Open the Secretive World of American Voting Machines

It began to dawn on Caulfield, slowly at first, that the amount the public didn’t know about these companies was vast. Quarterly profits, regional market share, R&D budgets, even the number of employees—often, there was simply nothing. “Basic, basic data—the basic layout of the industry—was just not out there,” Caulfield recalls. “Eventually, we realized that it didn’t exist.”…

Caulfield’s work points toward something more radical than perhaps even its author intended: a new reason to question the marriage of election administration and private industry. “What kinds of machines would we make if we declared this a public good, and had it produced in public laboratories?” Bollinger asked …

Study: The Price of Voting (Machines) – Valuable, Timely, and Facinating

Last week, I moderated a discussion featuring the authors of The Price of Voting, a study of what jurisdictions actually pay for voting machines.

The study is a great contribution to jurisdictions, including states like Connecticut, that are considering evaluating voting machines.

Five quick conclusions that I find relevant to Connecticut:

  1. If you are not getting about a 20% discount, you are paying too much…

State Audit Working Group comments on H.R.1

This week the State Audit Working Group published a letter sent to Rep Sarbanes regarding the collective concerns with the bill.

Here are the details from the cover letter to Rep Sarbanes:

We write to request critical changes to H.R.1, along with suggested improvements. Without a few key changes, we believe the bill might degrade election integrity and miss opportunities for improvement, rather than meet its well-intended, laudable goals. Our comments are restricted to election administration and integrity issues pp78-407 of the bill.

Attached to this letter is a list of detailed comments. Here we summarize the most critical items:

  • Requirements for grants should be stronger, to help ensure effective Risk Limiting Audits (RLAs)

Testimony on Early Voting/Absentee Voting Constitutional Amendments

On Monday, the Government Administration and Elections Committee will hear testimony on bills to modify Connecticut’s Constitution for Early Voting and No-Excuse Voting. Meanwhile another Constitutional Amendment or change is advisable to pave the way for related and unrelated voting changes which Connecticut may desire or may be forced upon Connecticut by H.R.1. My testimony is below and <here in .pdf>

H.J.58, H.J.59 – Needed – A Further Critical Change to the CT Constitution

Chairs, members of the Committee, and Connecticut voters, my name is Luther Weeks, Executive Director of CTVotersCount, a computer scientist, and a Certified Moderator since 2008. I also lead one national group and participate in another that discuss, evaluate, and regularly propose changes to state and Federal election laws.

As you are contemplating amendments to the Connecticut Constitution for elections, we need to go just a bit farther than the changes now in H.J.59. Just a few more words would make a great difference going forward. The additional changes would remove deadlines for reporting state contest results that are now baked into our Constitution. These same deadlines would remain in effect, in law, yet easier to change in short order should that become necessary.

Why are these changes critical?

There are at least four reasons why these deadlines may need to change quickly in the near future. Not removing them as soon as possible in our Constitution would cause significant problems and limitations, while waiting for another years-long amendment process to change them…<more>