CT: Secretary Of The State, Town Clerks Open To Explore Early Voting

Update: Photo of Secretary Bysiewicz and caption indicating she will look into early voting <view>
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Westport News: A Concept Worth Exploring <read>

Many viewed the long lines as a success for democracy. Well, the record turnout — most notably among younger Americans — sure was. But the lines, no way. In our fast-paced society, where time is money, some voters may have been discouraged by the lines and decided it was not worth the wait. We certainly hope this wasn’t the case and would like to extend our support to a concept that could be the remedy in Connecticut — early voting.

Fortunately, we believe, Connecticut was spared those long lines, as were most states with optical scan voting. If we did have long lines anywhere they could easily be cured by more space and more election officials at those polling places – a much simpler solution than early voting.

We do recognize the value of encouraging more citizens to vote by making it more convenient.

There are two ways early voting can take place: opening polls for a specified period prior to an election and permitting no-excuse absentee ballots.

Without a detailed analysis we can say that we are conditionally against early voting for Connecticut at this time(*). In simpler terms, we would want to see a very detailed plan and have an opportunity for it to be reviewed by nationally respected voting experts, computer scientists, and security experts. Until we see a detailed proposal and it is positively reviewed by experts our position would be against.

“No-excuse absentee ballots” is another name and form of mail-in voting. Like touch-screen voting it is attractive to the public and some election officials and, unfortunately, that ease may be accompanied by an unwarranted confidence that votes will be counted.  For more on concerns with mail-in voting, see <novbm>

“The secretary of the state is open to any and all suggestions that improve access to voters so it’s easier to cast a ballot,” said Adam Joseph, deputy communications director for the Office of the Secretary of the State.

In regard to early voting, Joseph said, “It is definitely going to be on our agenda for consideration in the upcoming legislative session.”

The economy rightfully will be the top priority when the Legislature convenes for a special session Nov. 24, but that is not to say that other issues important to the citizens of the state should be ignored. As Joseph noted, “It’s never too soon to think about the next election — not from a political perspective, from an administrative one.”

And there is an economic angle to early voting that must be part of the discussion. As Westport Town Clerk Patricia Strauss asked, “What are the costs?”

Strauss, vice chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Connecticut Town Clerks Association, said there are other questions that must be taken into consideration, too; security when it comes to mailing ballots and the effect of the increased use of paper products.

Location is another aspect that needs to be considered. Most polling places in Connecticut are schools, so how would opening the polls for two weeks prior to Election Day work? Would new locations be needed? Would more staff be required?

Strauss said the association will be looking into early voting before it decides whether or not to back it. “There’s so much to consider,” she said. “We will be talking about it.”

Money is an important consideration.  We would recommend a high priority on improving the current system to have voting integrity and confidence first, see: <petition>.   Early polling-place voting could be especially expensive, perhaps in the range of doubling the costs of elections – many times the costs of post-election audits, or the costs of printing paper ballots which many municipalities have complained are too expensive already.

In the case of early poll-place voting, Connecticut has special challenges. Most states outside of New England have county election management – early poll-place voting is handled at designated early voting sites which handle voters from many districts within a few sites – with 169 independent towns it would be quite a challenge to manage and to define a regional approach and it would be quite a burden on municipalities to do it alone.

We look forward to hearing the views of registrars and the Registrar of Voters Association of Connecticut on early voting.

(*)Editor’s note: CTVotersCount.org has yet to take a formal position on several issues such as early voting, mail-in voting, the national popular vote, and election day registration. It may seem at first that many of these have little to do with voting integrity, the process of voting, and electronic voting – areas we concentrate on. Yet, these variations on voting have implications for voting integrity, voting procedures, and electronic voting.

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One response to “CT: Secretary Of The State, Town Clerks Open To Explore Early Voting”

  1. The BRAD BLOG : 'Daily Voting News' For November 12, 2008

    […] CT: Secretary Of The State, Town Clerks Open To Explore Early Voting http://www.ctvoterscount.org/?p=990 […]

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