Testimony: Defending the Secret Vote and Check-in Integrity

Yesterday, I testified against two bills. I do not particularly like testifying against bills that promote concepts that I support, like electronic check-in, yet  like most technology, it can be done in a way that helps, without adding risks.

On the other hand, it is a privilege to defend the Secret Vote, one of many, often under-appreciated, keystones of democracy. Also appreciated is the many thoughtful questions presented by the Committee which gave me an opportunity to stand for the Secret Vote.

My prepared remarks <read>

Chairs and members of the Committee, my name is Luther Weeks, Executive Director of CTVotersCount , a software technologist and a veteran.I oppose S.B. 441. I support the concept of electronic check-in. Unfortunately, this bill does not impose any requirements or standards with regard to the capabilities, reliability, and integrity of electronic check-in systems nor for associated manual processes.  It has other serious flaws, that would reduce check-in integrity, reduce transparency, and extend waiting lines. The State of Indiana has initiated a robust certification process, perhaps Connecticut could base any certification on Indiana’s work, without duplicating it.

I oppose S.J. 24  for four reasons.

  • The secret vote protects us all. The true value of the secret vote is everyone’s right that every voters’ vote be secret, so that it cannot be sold or intimidated. The secret vote is not simply a right for an individual to keep their vote secret. No person can waive that right for every other voter. Like vaccination, it only works if everyone has the secret vote.
  • Military members are especially subject to intimidation and perceived intimidation, based on the authority of command and confirmed by continuing disappointing revelations. As my Basic Training Captain expressed it, “I am your mother, your father, your sister, and your brother”.
  • This bill is motivated by Internet voting, a risky, unsafe method of voting.  In addition to overwhelming opposition by Computer Scientists and Security Experts, Internet voting has been discredited by a Department of Defense study, security experts from the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Institute of Standards and Testing.
  • This bill is motivated by a desire to help soldiers vote, yet, conventional means have proven successful and economical, when the MOVE (Military and Overseas Voting) Act has been followed by Election Officials and the Military.

This veteran says:

 “Support our soldiers by waiving the Flag, but do not waive the secret vote. Do not thank me for my service — protect the secret vote that all of our soldiers and ancestors have fought and died for. Weakening the secret vote is ‘Democracy Theater’ at its worst, providing the illusion of helping our troops, providing an illusion of democracy.”

I also supplied extensive written testimony on both bills: <eCheck-In> <Secret Vote>

I spoke for the allotted three minutes. Then I was questioned extensively  on the value of the Secret Vote. Unfortunately, the hearing was  not recorded by CT-N.  Sometime there will be transcripts, yet they cannot not replace a video or being there.

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