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.

No Susan, “top two” primary is a flawed centerist dream, not a panacea

Susan Bigelow’s Op-Ed at CTNewsJunkie: Lesson from Levy’s Win: Open Up the Primaries. Argues for opening up primary voting to all voters, easier ballot access, and for “top two” primaries…

Our Editorial

First, we agree its all two difficult to get on the primary or election ballots for all but party endorsed candidates, or those like Levy and Lumaj.

The other two suggestions remind one of the Great Centerist dream, that there is a large number of voters not aligned with each party, they are all for business taxes being low and corporate welfare being being high, against the polls that show overwhelming support for climate action, medicare for all etc. They are alleged to align with the corporate lobbyists and interests that control legislative bodies and party leaders. Yet somehow that always fail as Andrew Wang’s latest new party is…However, the top-two has not worked out so well as we detailed in a previous post, reviewing its application in California: NY: don’t follow CA in making “Top Two” error , as we summarized back then…

 

Reminder: Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) beyond redemption

A new article by Andrew Appel reminds us: Magical thinking about Ballot-Marking-Device contingency plans .

The Center for Democracy and Technology recently published a report, “No Simple Answers: A Primer on Ballot Marking Device Security”, by William T. Adler.   Overall, it’s well-informed, clearly presents the problems as of 2022, and it’s definitely worth reading.  After explaining the issues and controversies, the report presents recommendations, most of which make a lot of sense, and indeed the states should act upon them.  But there’s one key recommendation in which Dr. Adler tries to provide a simple answer, and unfortunately his answer invokes a bit of magical thinking…

This the magical thinking:  “election officials should have a contingency plan.”  The problem is, when you try to write down such a plan, there’s nothing that actually works!  .

Fortunately Connecticut uses Hand Marked Paper Ballots except that it allows the IVS BMD to serve those with disabilities.

Poll Workers/Registrars challenges in CT and Nationally

A recent article in WhoWhatWhy outlines challenges across the country:  Big Lie Fallout: Experts Fear Threats Will Cause Poll Workers to Quit 

Election integrity experts are sounding the alarm that many election workers will leave their positions on the front lines of democracy unless they are protected from the types of threats and harassment that hundreds of them experienced after the 2020 election.

According to a 2022 survey from the Brennan Center for Justice, 1 in 5 local election officials are “very” or “somewhat unlikely” to continue serving through 2024. The survey stated that “politicians’ attacks on the system, stress, and retirement plans are the primary reasons they plan to leave their jobs.”

“There’s an air of menace that causes people to say, ‘Oh, the heck with this, I don’t want to do this anymore,’” said Elaine Kamarck, founding director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institute.

It may be different in Connecticut with perhaps worse results in too many towns:

We have not heard much about about open harassment, yet the job is getting ever tougher with massive amounts of FOI requests to some registrars and with town government,  in many cases, ignoring calls for more funding, hours and staffing for overworked officials. No wonder they are quitting. In those situations it is a wonder anyone knowledgeable would step up or step in to help.

We hear that between Nov 2021 and a couple of months ago over 40% of Connecticut Registrars of Voters have resigned! That’s a lot more than the 1 in 5 thinking about it in the Brennan Survey; that does not include those already not running again in Nov 2022; and experienced registrars are even more important to our elections that experienced poll workers. At least poll workers, by law, must be paid for every hour they serve.

 

Next Up: Supreme Court may let legislatures decide the 2024 Presidential Election

The Supreme Court has taken a redistricting case for next year that could take the 2024 Presidential Election out of the hands of the voters and the the Governors and put them exclusively in the domain of the state legislatures. Tom Hartman has the best explanation I have seen: Beware: The Supreme Court Is Laying Groundwork to Pre-Rig the 2024 Election 

This scenario isn’t just plausible: it’s probable. GOP-controlled states are already changing their state laws to allow for it, regardless of how their people vote…

Daughters (Sons and Elders) head Jonathan Simon’s advice to his Daughter.

Jonathan Simon, via WhoWhatWhy.org Letter to My Nonvoting Daughter:

“My daughter, 28, recently wrote in an email to me, “I’m so disappointed in how the world is right now, I don’t vote because of it.”

Here is my response to her.

Dear L_____,

A lecture is coming that you’ll probably feel you could live without. Nevertheless, I persist.

Reminiscent of our past post:

THE ONLY WAY TO BE SURE YOUR VOTE WON’T COUNT – IS TO NOT VOTE.

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.

Testimony: Suggest Correcting Two Serious Flaws in the Law.

 

Yesterday I testified on a technical elections bill that the General Assembly should go farther in two regards:

Transparency, Ballot Security, and Public Verifiability are the basis for justified confidence in our elections. So much more important now that many question the integrity of our elections.

As I testified in 2016 and 2015, existing law and a new law providing for interrupted counting lasting up to 48 hours have serious flaws:

  • First, the new law for interrupted counting did not provide any method for the public, candidates, or parties to be notified when counting was to resume.

Second, since the inception of optical scanners in 2007 the law has never recognized that ballots are cast in polling places. That portion of the law assumes, apparently, that we are still using lever machines.

It is long past time for Connecticut to begin a path toward full transparency, public verifiability, and protecting our paper ballots, upon which justified confidence in elections is based. <testimony>

Insiders are a great threat to elections

It is refreshing to see that main stream media is beginning to recognize the threat of insiders to elections.  I agree that election officials are by and large of high integrity, however just like other officials a few are not. Insiders can have access to a wide range of election equipment, ballots, and other data that create and verify election results. A recent Associated Press article by Christia A. Cassidy points that out:

In a handful of states, authorities are investigating whether local officials directed or aided in suspected security breaches at their own election offices. At least some have expressed doubt about the 2020 presidential election, and information gleaned from the breaches has surfaced in conspiracy theories pushed by allies of former President Donald Trump.

Insiders are not just election officials, other insiders include town hall employees in the mail room and network/computer staff, janitors with access to storage areas and election offices; They include post office workers and various vendor personal with access to networks or to repair election equipment. Here are some examples from Connecticut and elsewhere: