CT: Republican Chair Concerned With Election Integrity

Christine Stuart, CTNewsJunkie <read>

Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy sent this letter to Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz Friday afternoon asking her to delay the certification of Tuesday’s vote because he fears the results in some close races may not be accurate.

Especially in races where candidates were cross-endorsed by other party’s like the Working Families party.

Using an example from the 62nd District were 18 year incumbent Rep. Richard Ferrari, R-East Granby, was ousted by political newcomer Annie Hornish, Healy said he is concerned about “how easy it is to incorrectly double count votes for cross-endorsed candidates.”

Hornish ran as a Democrat but was also endorsed by the Working Families Party, so her name appeared twice on the ballot. In East Granby the moderator mistakenly counted the votes from the working Families Party twice. “Fortunately, this error was caught in time for the moderator to amend his return,” Healy said.

As Healy said in his letter:

The instructions on the moderator’s return state in relevant part: “1. Enter total votes in the boxes directly below each candidate’s name.” Initially in East Granby, the moderator entered the total votes received by the Democrat candidate in the box under the Democrat candidate’s name. The Working Party votes were included in this total, but the Working Party votes were also entered in the box under the Working Party candidate’s name.

Since the candidate was cross-endorsed, this error had the effect of double counting the
Working Party votes.

We agree that it is very easy to make this error and several others in accounting for votes. There are several problems and contributing factors:

  • Misunderstanding the instructions.
  • Transcription errors – polling place officials transcribe numbers from machine tapes and hand-count totals to the Moderator’s Return – the Head Moderator in each municipality transcribes results to combine totals for the town – the Secretary of the State’s Office transcribes totals to be added to determine results for races that cross municipal boundaries.
  • Moderators do their work late at night after a seventeen or eighteen hour day.

A component of a solution we recommend would be that copies of all polling place Moderator’s Returns and tabulator tapes be faxed to the Secretary of the State’s office with their images posted on the Secretary of the State’s web. This would provide the opportunity for Mr. Healy, candidates, and concerned citizens to review results free of most transcription.

Another component of a solution we recommend would be stronger, more comprehensive post-election audits – including auditing all votes no matter how cast, no matter how counted: Machine counted, hand-counted, including absentee, military, provisional ballots etc.

We share another concern expressed by Mr. Healy in his letter:

My second concern has to do with how the “unknown” votes are assigned to a party (as opposed to a candidate). “Unknown” votes are votes that the tabulator assigns to a cross-endorsed candidate when the voter voted both for the candidate as a Democrat and, as in this case, for the candidate as a Working Families candidate. There is no direction or guidance regarding how these votes are assigned, so the moderator has the discretion to assign them to either the Democrat candidate, or the Working Families candidate. I understand that in most – if not all – cases, these votes are being assigned to the Working Families candidate. This of course has the effect of inflating the vote for the Working Families party and may mean the difference between the party being included or not included on future ballots.

While this practice has no effect on the outcome of these races, it has profound implications for future ballots. It is a practice that is simply unacceptable.

We add these concerns:

  • Assignment of such votes should be decided by the legislature, not the Secretary of the State, and not by local election officials.
  • If credit for votes is effectively taken away from a candidate’s party, the effect of a cross-endorsement could hurt the candidate’s party and serve as an incentive for candidates to not accept cross endorsements.
  • Similarly what if a popular third party candidate was cross endorsed by a major party, would the votes then go to the major party at the expense of the third party?
  • What happens if a candidate is cross endorsed by more than two parties?
  • What happens if a candidate is cross endorsed by two major parties? Could this be a strategy to take credit from the other party?

One response to “CT: Republican Chair Concerned With Election Integrity”

  1. The BRAD BLOG : 'Daily Voting News' For November 09, 2008

    […] CT: Republican Chair Concerned With Election Integrity http://www.ctvoterscount.org/?p=975 […]

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