Questions for Secretary of the State Candidates

(See our Editor’s Note on the 2010 race for Secretary of the State)

Over time we are developing some elections oriented questions we would ask every candidate for the office of Secretary of the State.  This is our current draft  of some open-ended, yet sometimes detailed questions, updated as of 12/22/2009:

  • What qualifies you to perform the duties of Secretary of the State including the roles of Chief Elections Official, recording, and reporting?
  • What specific experience do you have with election laws, voter registration, and election management?  Have you served as an election official?  Do you have relevant experience leading a staff of professionals?
  • What changes in Connecticut and National election laws would you work for as Secretary of the State?
  • What changes would you make in the operations of the Secretary of the State’s office, the conduct of elections, the training of election officials, and the supervision of election officials? The Secretary of the State’s web site?
  • What changes would you make on your own initiative in your first 100 days and beyond?
  • What is your view of the current state of election integrity in Connecticut?  Comment specifically on the results of the post-election audits, UConn memory card audits, the chain-of-custody of ballots, the certification of election results,and the state’s dependence on Diebold and LHS Associates.
  • Would you support in-state programming of memory cards and the independent testing of all memory cards prior to each election using the existing UConn developed, state funded testing system?
  • Which current and past Secretaries of State and laws in other states are worth emulating in Connecticut?  Why?
  • In each of the last three years, several Democrats in the Connecticut Legislature have proposed implementing the National Popular Vote by interstate compact.  Democrats opposed to the Compact include Secretary Bysiewicz and Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.  What is your position on the National Popular Vote Compact?
  • IRV or Instant Runoff Voting has been broached in the Legislature and is under consideration in one Connecticut town for local elections.  National experience has been mixed with a huge controversy in Aspen, CO and outright repeal in Burlington, VT.  Can you explain IRV?  Would you support it for Connecticut towns and statewide?
  • Connecticut and New York are possibly the only states retaining a, so called, Partisan  Ballot.  Can you describe the difference between a partisan and a non-partisan ballot?  Would you support a non-partisan ballot for Connecticut?
  • We here a lot about increasing turn out, by making it more convenient to vote.  How would you increase turn out by making elections more competitive in Connecticut?  For instance, would you change any ballot access requirements for candidates?
  • Our election laws are antiquated, complex and confusing. For instance, the way paper ballots are preserved are described differently for different election types, for absentee vs. scanned ballots, vs. all paper elections. States differ in many regards on the sequence of election events and the timing of certification, recanvasses, and audits.  For instance we do recanvasses in five days and start audits 15 days after the election, while Minnesota does audits in five days and starts recounts fourteen days after the election. Would you support a review of all our election laws to consider the best practices of other states in light of our change to optical scanners?
  • Good government groups recommend post-election audits independent from the Secretary of the State.  Would you support legislation for audits independent of the Secretary of the State?  Would you support requiring supervision of counting by officials independent of the same local officials that conducted the local election?  Would you support State reimbursement of towns for post-election audit expenses?
  • Registrars complain of the expense and difficulty in setting up the IVS system for persons with disabilities, while few voters use the IVS which at most only accommodates voters who are blind.  What would you do?
  • The Secretary of the State’s web site is consistently rated as one of the least useful when compared to other states.  Would you support the posting of all election results by district for each contest, separated by optical scanned votes, absentee votes, manually counted votes, and provisional ballots along with the posting of copies of district Moderators’ Returns and optical scanner tapes?  What other improvements would you make to the Secretary of the State’s web site to facilitate the voting process?
  • In the majority of Connecticut municipalities either Registrar has access to a single key allowing access to voted ballots, in many towns anyone in the registrars’ office has access to the key.  Would you support legislation to require dual locks and two opposing election officials required to be present for all access  to ballots, with such access controlled and recorded by the municipal clerk?
  • Registrars complain that the advice given by the Secretary of the State’s Office often depends on who responds to your question and on what day.  Would you implement a system of tracking questions and responses to election official, candidate, and citizen questions?
  • President Obama has characterized cyber security as “one of the most serious … security challenges of the 21st century” yet, Congress passed and the President signed the MOVE Act providing support for pilot programs for Internet voting for Military and Overseas voters.  Do you favor or oppose the submission of votes via the Internet, email or fax?
  • The state saved money and apparently increased citizen service by consolidating the Probate Court.  Most states beyond New England have either elected or civil service professional election officials conducting elections by county.  Would you support a complete review of the organization of our elections, with an eye to adopting some type of regional system consolidating the current 339+ registrars of voters in Connecticut?
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