Comments On The Presidential Primary

Update: According to the Journal Inquirer <read>

Bysiewicz said there were relatively few problems with the new optical scan voting machines. Six out of the 825 devices used across the state had to be replaced with back-ups. Two jammed and three were not properly programmed, she said

Sounds to me like they were not properly pre-election tested as well. Unless it was some very odd circumstance that happened three times?

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We tend to comment on electronic voting issues on this site with an emphasis on integrity and confidence in the election results and that every vote is counted (and none extra). Yet, even the issues of privacy booths and machine tender location provide instructive irony.

Connecticut, So Far

Although there were some problems on election day, we have not yet experienced many of the situations we have read from around the country. For example: <here>, <here>, <here>, and <here>. Unfortunately, we are all in this together – our President, our Senate majority, and our House majority is dependent on every state’s election system. Every voter disenfranchised anywhere counts against our vote and our democracy.

No matter what else we might say it is clear we are better off with optical scan equipment and thankfully avoided DREs. Let us all recall the historic reversal by our Secretary of the State – we are not against politicians changing their minds – in fact, we spend most our time with them urging them to change their minds!

Yet, it is not yet possible to be even close to confident. Memory card problems continue to occur <Dori Smith, TalkNationRadio>, while we await the post-election audits, and work to make those audits sufficient to provide integrity and confidence.

Four Ironies and a Quiz:

Irony #1: Voter Privacy vs. Voter Confidence

Once again,we have complaints from voters about the lack of privacy in booths and about machine tenders too close for comfort. These complaints are valid. They were recognized last fall. It is a mystery with all the publicity that so many easily preventable concerns are not addressed. In her recent press conference, the Secretary of the State, while down playing the bad news in the post-election audits and memory card tests, called on the Legislature to enact laws to mandate some reasonable privacy safeguards. We applaud that action, laws are needed since procedures and regulations are difficult to impossible to enforce.

Here is the irony: While calling for laws to protect privacy, there are no calls from the Secretary to enact legislation to establish post-election audit procedures, memory card testing procedures, and chain-of-custody requirements. Unless the legislature acts, we will continue to rely on inadequate procedures, that are frequently violated, and not enforced.

Irony #2:

Registrars claim that the uninvestigated audits are proof that people (Connecticut Election Officials) cannot count accurately, while they claim that unknown LHS employees programming memory cards in secret perform perfectly – otherwise they would entertain the possibility that some of the counting discrepancies may not have been due to their supervision of the audit process. We have no doubt that people are error prone and frequently count inaccurately. There are ways of counting that are more reliable that compensate for human counting limitations. The irony is that we also have plenty of experience to show that people make simple errors in programming even relatively mundane things like election ballots.

Irony #3:

Several towns ran out of official ballots and made copies. The copies were counted by hand, not machine. The irony is that our post-election audits will only address machine counted ballots and will not involve the copied paper ballots counted in a way election officials and the Secretary of the State say is error prone.

Irony #4:

Registrars and others complain about both the high cost of ballots (about) $0.35 per ballot printed and the cost of auditing the primary about $(0.008) per ballot cast. (that is about $0.08 to count a vote divided by 10 to account for the 10% audit).

The irony, is that we have not seen any complaints about the extra cost of hand counting those extra ballots. Perhaps I have missed them. Using a reasonable price we have $0.14 to print and $0.08 to count copyied ballots, or $0.22, a savings of (about) $0.13 per vote.

Quiz: How much does it cost you to vote? How much mileage? Plus how much time at minimum wage?

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