What’s the matter with H.R.1, Part 2

Yesterday in <Part 1> we covered our three greatest concerns with the election administration in H.R.1: U.S. House Resolution 1, “For the People Act of 2021”. Here we will cover the rest of our major concerns, these alone argue that the bill should not be passed without a number of major and minor changes…

In <Part 3> we address what is clearly good in the election administration portions of the bill and what might be changed to meet the well-intended goals without the, likely unintended, unnecessary detailed requirements and consequences.

What’s the matter with H.R.1, Part 1

H.R.1: U.S. House Resolution 1, “For the People Act of 2021”. It is a 790 page omnibus election reform bill supported largely by Democrats. There is a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.

It is endorsed by a huge number of good government groups. I wonder how many have read it in detail and understand its ramifications? Like many such bills it has some good provisions and some not so good provisions. I have read only those portions having to do with voting and election administration, about half the bill, pp78-407 – areas where I can claim a level of expertise. I have also spent hours with a team of experts reviewing those provisions in further detail.

Be careful what you endorse! All of this bill is well-intended, yet not all workable. 

In this 1st post I will concentrate on just three concerns that make it especially tough for states like Connecticut. Overall in its voting and election administration sections one could say it seems to be intended to make all states voting more like California and Colorado which encourage voters to vote by mail, while offering extensive early (in-person) voting, along with polling place voting.

First, overall its too much too quickly. Overall we estimate doubling to quadrupling election costs in our cities and towns...

The Case Against Trusting Democracy to BMDs

Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) are under consideration by several states for use for all in-person voting. They have paper ballots, “What could possibly go wrong?”.  A recent paper makes the case that they cannot be audited or trusted to provide accurate results. The paper recommends that they should be limited to use by voters that need accessibility:  Ballot-marking devices (BMDs) cannot assure the will of the voters 

not only is it inappropriate to rely on voters to check whether BMDs alter expressed votes, it doesn’t work.

Yet, this paper has been very controversial in election integrity circles. Advocates for those with disabilities argue that everyone should vote the same way on the same equipment, because that is what is needed to provide equality, to incentivize and cause better BMDs that meet everyone’s needs including those for evidence based elections.

Beware the costly solution that does not solve the problem

WhoWhatWhy: Will Georgia Double Down on Non-Transparent, Vulnerable Election Machines? 

Georgia’s newly elected secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger (R), hopes to replace them not with hand-marked paper ballots and scanners (as virtually all independent cybersecurity election experts recommend), but rather with touchscreen ballot-marking devices,..In addition to security concerns, all touchscreen systems tend to cause long lines…The ExpressVote system also would cost taxpayers more than three times as much as hand-marked paper ballots and scanners:? an estimated $100 million as opposed to $30 million.

A system only greedy vendors and fraudsters would love.

******Update: Verified Voting Statement to Georgia

Courant Editorial Misses the Mark on At Least Three of Five Points

On Sunday the Hartford Courant lead Editorial proposed fixes to its perceived problems with Connecticut’s election system: 5 Fixes For State’s Broken Election System. Note that all the statewide races were decided by 8:00am on Wednesday morning after the election.

To the Courant’s credit, for the second time in a row, they published a letter of mine criticizing an editorial.

Proposed Fixes Could Make Problems Worse

The editorial “Five Fixes for State’s Broken Election System” misses the mark on at least three of its five proposals

See a problem, propose a solution you want that might make the problem worse

There were long lines for Election Day Registration (EDR) and it took a whole 10 hours to count enough votes to determine the Governor in Connecticut. Our EDR is a problem, but waiting ten hours for result is just a concern hyped up by a overly impatient press and used as a opportunity by advocates to promote early voting as a solution.

As of this time the states of California, Colorado, Florida, and Georgia are still counting votes. They all have mail-in early voting.  California has a Friday deadline to receive mail-in ballots postmarked by election day and counts them for weeks after election day.  As of Friday all those other states were still counting.

There real are problems and there are reasonable solutions.

How Could CT Spend New Federal Election Security Money?

Connecticut will have available somewhere around $5 million to spend on election security in the new “omnibus” appropriations bill. Woefully inadequate for states that should be replacing touch-screen voting with all paper ballots.  etc., for a state that already has paper ballots, a lot can be accomplished.

Denise Merrill is already thinking about how to spend it: CTMirror: Omnibus has millions to strengthen CT voting system against cyber attacks.

Secretary Merrill asked me for suggestions in a brief conversation a couple of weeks ago. At the time, off the top of my head, I suggested and we briefly discussed three things. After consideration I would suggest some more things. Security is not just cyber security and training officials. It also requires physical protection of ballots, physical protection of voting machines, and understanding the situation before determining the training needed.

What is wrong with CT’s Election Day Registration

Late last month, we testified on  a bill, S.B. 250 that would modify Connecticut’s Election Day Registration (EDR) law. We did not testify for or against the proposed change, clearly aimed at making life easier for registrars and election day workers* at the expense of convenience to the public.  Yet there are larger problems with Connecticut’s EDR law and procedures implemented by the Secretary of the State. Here are several of those problems:

Time to Hold ’em – Connecticut’s voting machines

San Francisco provides another reason for Connecticut to wait before considering new voting machines: San Francisco Examiner: San Francisco sets sights on open source voting by November 2019 <read>

“San Francisco could help write some U.S. democracy history with its leadership role,” said a Nov. 18 letter to the Elections Commission from Gregory Miller, co-founder of the Open Source Election Technology (OSET) Foundation, a collection of executives from top technology companies like Apple and Facebook. “And the total estimated cost to do so [$8 million] is a fraction of status-quo alternatives.

The Power of Partnership: Do you know what your election officials have been watching?

Direct from the Dominion web, a marketing video featuring Denver election from Dominion.

We recommend caution for election officials, along with concern and skepticism for voters and taxpayers.