Hacked newspaper recommends online voting

Hartford Courant editorial supports Secretary of the State’s and Governor’s initiative, while asking for more: State Changes Will Make It Easier To Vote – New Initiatives: State officials want to increase voter participation <read>

January 19, 2012

Although 14 states have taken steps to make it more difficult to vote — by requiring identification that some people don’t possess, for example — Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, with the backing of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, is pushing Connecticut in the other direction.

Good for them. Voting is the essence of democracy. Making it easier to vote will increase a citizen’s stake in government.

Ms. Merrill unveiled her package of reforms on Monday, the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who called ballot access a bedrock civil right. The secretary of the state noted that in Connecticut nearly one-third of eligible voters are not registered, barely 30 percent of registered voters turned out in last fall’s municipal elections, and only 57 percent voted in the statewide and congressional elections in 2010.

That’s a worrisome dropoff in participation. Cynicism over partisan gridlock in Washington may have something to do with paltry voter participation, but so do antiquated election laws and practices.

As an antidote to voter malaise, Ms. Merrill proposes that Connecticut law allow Election Day registration, no-excuse absentee voting and online voter registration. She also proposes to increase criminal penalties on those who tamper with voting equipment or who interfere with, threaten or intimidate voters. Those are good changes — for starters. She and lawmakers should consider online voting and various forms of early voting as well.

Changes to absentee voting will take a constitutional amendment, but should be pursued. This is one promising avenue to increased voter participation. So is Election Day registration. Ms. Merrill says that in the nine states that have some form of Election Day registration, turnout has improved an average of 8 to 10 percent.

Opponents of these worthy efforts to improve access to the ballot raise the specter of fraud. That hasn’t been what experience teaches.

[Emphasis ours]

The Courant seems a bit forgetful. Online voting is risky.

We also note that the Courant makes two common errors in the final sentence of the editorial. I guess they, like the New York Times, question the obligation to present actual facts in the paper:

  • According to the best science available, early voting including non-excuse absentee voting do NOT increase voter turn-out (it DECREASES IT). Similar information was provided to the Secretary of the State’s Election Performance Task Force.
  • While there are few instances of votER fraud that many fear from election day registration and online registration, there are plenty of instances after most elections of the more dangerous votING fraud with absentee ballots. Even in the Courant’s state and backyard there is a hi story of fraud and allegations of fraud.<See here here here>

While we are at it, there is an relationship between what goes on in Washington and Hartford; between what goes on in the news section and the editorial section of the paper. In a blog entry yesterday Courant Reporter Daniela Altimari asks: How Tech-Savvy is the State’s Congressional Delegation? <read>

Sadly tech-savvy, meaning that representatives use iPads or listen to iTunes can be confused as Altimari points out at the end of the post:

Owning an iPad and a Netflix membership doesn’t mean you know the ins and outs of DNS filtering and the other complex technical issues surrounding SOPA. But if you are in a position of voting on potentially ground-breaking legislation with far-reaching implications, a grasp of how the Internet works is key.

Sadly this last paragraph was dropped from the print edition of the paper, leaving most readers with the impression that tech-savvy and consumerism are equivalent. As we said in a comment on the blog post:

Using an iPad or listening to iTunes is certainly not equivalent to understanding Internet. Sort of like confusing Dr. Mel [legendary CT meteorologist 1945-2012]  with a person who uses a snowblower. Sadly there remains only one Scientist in all of the U.S. Congress, Rep Rush Holt, unless one considers medical doctors and dentists. I can’t help but note that PIPA sounds like a tribute to Ted Stevens who famously referred to the Internet as a series of tubes. (Actually Stevens may have been unfairely ridiculed here as data communications experts often explain bandwidth variations in terms of garden hoses, fire hoses, and rivers – there is a pretty direct analogy – Stevens may at least have attepted to talk to experts)

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