Editorial, Bridgeport Part 2: What could/should we do

Earlier we described the general situation with regard to the recent Bridgeport Primary and some steps in the wrong direction.<read part 1> Today we will discuss some steps that could be taken to prevent these same problems in Bridgeport, Hartford, Stamford, and elsewhere in Connecticut.

Increase Enforcement:  Over at least the last dozen years all the state watchdog agencies have been under assault by the General Assembly. Faced with an increasing load of complaints the relatively small State Elections Enforcement Agency (SEEC) has been considerably reduced in size. The result has been slower and slower adjudication of cases, while the General Assembly mandated that many cases not dissolved in a year must be dismissed. A start would be aiming to double its size with additional administrative staff, yet mostly more investigators and lawyers.  The sooner the better as it takes years for a lawyer there to be fully knowledgeable and productive. We should also outlaw fines levied on officials being paid by their towns. (Maybe its just me, but when there is a blatant violation it makes no sense for the actual perpetrators not to bare the burden)  In significant cases we would like to see the violators replaced.

Monitor Elections With Independent Monitors: Last year, Bridgeport had a primary rerun twice because of absentee ballot problems.  The second time a monitor said to do it again.  That was a local individual who did a good job as far as we know, yet the answer is truly independent monitors, and not just for a couple primaries. Full time expert monitors should be assigned to repeat violators such as Bridgeport – for multiple years – paid to also get registrar certifications, all at the town’s expense.

Randomly Audit Absentee Votes, Envelopes, and Applications: Connecticut has post-election audits of polling place cast votes. We do not audit the centrally counted absentee ballots or the Election Day Registration ballots. We should go way beyond that and randomly select a % of absentee ballot envelopes, checklists, and applications for signature integrity, and voter interviews to determine how pervasive these problems are in every town across the state. Where necessary enforcement actions and expanded audits undertaken based on violations found.  Towns with a history of abuse should be subject to increased random selection in subsequent years. This should be a truly Independent Audit perhaps under the auspices of the State Auditors of Public Accounts or the SEEC.  The state’s history with the not truly independent post-election audit should be avoided.

Finally, a robust measure of prevention and professionalism that could make a huge difference in Connecticut Elections:

Do for Elections What We Have Done for Probate: Rationalize, Professionalize, Economize.

 

 

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