CT Law

Testimony on two small, instructive bills

Last week I submitted testimony on two bills before the GAE (General Administration and Elections Committee.) (Read my testimony here)

This is likely the last time I will testify this year. Both of the bills seem minor, yet offered and opportunity to highlight errors and inconsistencies in the law that are overlooked and not addressed.

The first about collecting envelopes from drop boxes. There is no requirement for more than one person to collect the envelopes. There is no requirement that the collection and materials be logged. Who supports that ballots and other materials should be collected and transported by only one person, at any time?

The other making minor changes to the recanvass law, including requiring a training video from the Secretary of the State. I suggested several other changes, such as notifying all candidates, sending the video link along (so that everyone involved know the rules, and that one observer should be allowed per counting team.

When submitting testimony one can specify Support, Oppose, or General Comments. When signing up to speak the choices are Support or Oppose. I often wrestle with this. I know that some look just at how many support or oppose a bill. Here there is much missing, so I choose oppose.

Testimony opposed to six bills on RCV and RLAs

On Monday I testified against five bills on Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) and one on Risk Limiting Audits (RLAs),

As I said,

I am not opposed to the concepts of Risk Limiting Audits (RLAs) or Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) but I am opposed to all six of these bills as they are insufficiently detailed. They also provide no guarantees of transparency..

Both of these concepts involve detailed technical and computational issues. Neither are as simple as looking at marks on ballots and simply counting votes. Officials, candidates, the public, and the SEEC need to know exactly what is expected of officials, so they can perform as expected and such that all can determine if they are doing what is required, uniformly across the state…

 

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:

CT Secretary calls for 10 days of early voting starting in 2023

https://portal.ct.gov/SOTS/Press-Releases/2023-Press-Releases/Secretary-Thomas-Presents-Legislature-with-Recommendations-for-Early-Voting-Program From no ePollbooks currently approved and no early voting in place, this will be a tall order for the two elected registrars in each of our 169 towns. Likely tripling the number of pollworker days in most towns, requiring lots of recruiting and training and loads of novice pollworkers. This will also put a lot of work on the Secretary’s small staff to develop procedures, provide training, and approve all sorts of plans in a short time.

Editorial:..

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 4 – Electronic Pollbooks

This is the fourth in a series on Early Voting in Connecticut. See <Part 3 – New Voting Machines>

In this post we will cover Electronic Poolbooks – Why, How, and When we should add electronic pollbooks. Next time we will cover the alternatives for early voting in 2024. Hint: they all have advantages and disadvantages.

Our understanding is that UConn, under the direction of the Secretary of the State’s (SOTS) Office is already evaluating electronic pollbooks. Presumably they could be selected by the SOTS sometime in 2023.

Why Electronic Pollbooks (ePollbooks)

The answer here is not as simple and clear as many would suggest. There are two advantages often touted for ePollobooks which are not actually true:

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.

Voters

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.

Testimony on two election bills. One poorly written, the other needing more.

Yesterday I submitted testimony on two bills before the GAE (General Administration and Elections Committee. Unfortunately I was unable to testify in person. It was not for a lack of trying. I had submitted testimony and signed up for the hearing two days in advance, yet only one of my two testimonies was posted in time for the hearing and neither I nor the committee staff could get me the link to testify. Its happened before this year and last, yet only for this committee – in the past the staff was able to correct the problems. In one case not much was lost except to my reputation as the committee still called may name when I was supposed to testify.

S.B.472 Would change our existing 5% audit, adding risk-limiting audits. Unfortunately it is a highly flawed bill. I submitted the most detailed testimony, articulating its many flaws new and existing. Fortunately the testimony, so far, us unanimously against the current bill, with more on the way. Overall no harm done that I could not speak. It would seem that its is very unlikely to move forward this year.

H.J.114 The Constitutional Amendment to provide for no-excuse absentee voting. In this case, not being able to testify in person and my testimony not being up hurt. I am likely the only person speaking and submitting testimony asking that the bill remove another unfortunate restriction in the Constitution that will bite us along the way with absentee voting and/or ranked choice voting. Of course we can wait and learn our lesson the hard way.