The Risky Way to Make an Important, Costly Decision

On March 11th,  Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill, released an RFP along with a Press Release: Secretary of the State Aims to Revolutionize Voting Devices for Persons with Disabilities in Connecticut.

From what I can determine, this is a rushed, unsound plan.  It is likely to be wasteful, risks chaos in November, and unlikely to satisfy the needs of those with disabilities, taxpayers, or polling place officials.

What is wrong with CT’s Election Day Registration

Late last month, we testified on  a bill, S.B. 250 that would modify Connecticut’s Election Day Registration (EDR) law. We did not testify for or against the proposed change, clearly aimed at making life easier for registrars and election day workers* at the expense of convenience to the public.  Yet there are larger problems with Connecticut’s EDR law and procedures implemented by the Secretary of the State. Here are several of those problems:

Reminder: Still time for almost any eligible citizen to vote in the Presidential Primary

  • Reminder:  The only way to be sure your vote won’t count:  Don’t Vote.  If you choose not to vote, don’t complain that we could have done better.

You may or may not be pleased with the choices in the primary, yet I would hope you would agree that it would make a difference to you between a Trump, Cruz, Rubio, or Kasich presidency and a difference to you between a Clinton or Sanders presidency.

The best day to register is today.  The easiest way to register is with online registration <online registration>

 

Testimony on Four Bills

This year we testified on four bills before the legislature. We supported two bills, and for a change opposed none. For the two we neither supported nor opposed,, we proposed changes to the same sections of the law addressed by the bills.

Citizen Audit Cites Flaws in Official Election Audits

Again accuracy declined and write-in votes handled incorrectly
November 2015 Post-Election Audit Report

From the Press Release:

The Connecticut Citizen Election Audit has released its report on its observation of the November 2015 official post-election audits. The audits, required by state law, are intended to verify the accuracy of elections at the municipal level.

Citizen Audit spokesperson Luther Weeks stated, After 9 years of official audits, voters should expect accuracy. Yet the audits have gone from poor to worse.”

The group’s observers found that official audit results do not inspire confidence because of continued:

  • Discrepancies between machine counts and hand counts of votes reported to the Secretary of the State by municipal registrars of voters.
  • Lack of investigation of such discrepancies, and the lack of standards for triggering investigations.
  • Lack of consistency, reliability, and transparency in the conduct of the audit.
  • Weaknesses in ballot chain-of-custody and security.

The group’s report noted:

  • 28% of official audits cited “Human Error” in counting ballots and votes. Registrars of voters should be expected to take the necessary effort to count accurately.
  • Significant decreases in audit integrity, and accuracy.
  • In three towns audits detected districts where officials fed write-in ballots through scanners a second time on election night.
  • If the group’s recommendations from last year had been mandated and followed, all write-in ballots would have been counted accurately.

“Problems discovered counting write-ins two years in a row shows the value of the official audits. But the report also reveals the decline in official attention to the audits, demonstrating that independent citizen observation and reporting are essential to election integrity.” Weeks emphasized.

<Press Release .pdf> <Full Report pdf>  <Detail data/municipal reports>

Apple vs. the Government: Security and Privacy overlap

Apple is right to object to the government’s request to help open an iPhone.  Many claim it is an issue of balance between Security and Privacy. Perhaps. Yet, the Constitution talks of the the right of the people to be Secure in their effects.

To all those voices discussing this issue, we add:

  • Cracking “just one phone” and destroying the program thereafter is a myth…

While we applaud Apple’s efforts to make it impossible to crack new iPhones, such claims, in our view, are mythical.

The Iowa Caucus vs. a Primary

There are several differences between a caucus and a primary election.  These differences are glaring, especially in the case of the Iowa Democratic Presidential Caucus.  Like all elections, the rules,  eligibility, and voting methods vary from state to state. In presidential primaries and caucuses they can vary from party to party.

Here is our list of important concerns with the Iowa Democratic Caucus. All things considered, democracy would be better served by a  primary than the Iowa Caucus.

Help Wanted: Low pay, long hours, impossible demands, no benefits

A Courant article reminds us of an idea out of left-field enacted last year by the General Assembly as a “rat*”: Deadline Looms For Regional Election Monitors

When the Connecticut General Assembly passed the budget implementer bill in June 2015, buried in its 702 pages was the stipulation that regional election monitors be in place by March 1.

Those regional monitors were to be hired by each of the nine planning regions in the state. They would be certified by the Secretary of State’s office, but not paid by them.

Gentle reader, before you rush out and apply we note several items which might not be apparent.

Are Feds off-target in disabled ballot probe?

From the CT Post:  Feds probing how Connecticut handles disabled voters ballots

Both the IVS and the referendum systems, for different reasons, are a disservice to voters with disabilities.  Yet the gist of the probe, if the article is correct, is incorrectly aimed at referendums and would be more appropriately aimed at State and Federal elections. Perhaps both should be probed for different reasons.

Brennan Center: Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda

Whenever we open a report with multiple recommendations we start from a skeptical point of view. We expect to agree with some proposals and disagree with others.  A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice is the exception.  We agree with every recommendation:
Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda

It starts with the right criteria, it has a great agenda, strong supporting arguments, and ends with an appropriate call to action