Voter Registration System – Lots Of Finger Pointing

Stamford Advocate article has Registrars, Secretary of the State, and the Department of Information Technology statements about the unreliable voter registration system <read>

A few years ago, registrars of voters in Stamford and Norwalk faced off with the state over their reluctance to join the new centralized voter registration system.

The registrars unsuccessfully argued the technology, which is meant to prevent registration and voting duplication, was unreliable. Norwalk’s two registrars were fined by the state for noncompliance.But it turns out they were right.

Citing “tremendous difficulties” in the week before Connecticut’s Feb. 5 presidential primary, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz has asked the governor and the state Department of Information Technology to prioritize an upgrade of the voter system before November…

Bysiewicz’s letter to Gov. M. Jodi Rell, which said efforts to improve the system this spring have “stalled,” prompted a scathing response from Diane Wallace, the state’s chief information officer.

Wallace said her office will continue to work with Bysiewicz to resolve the issues. But she also accused Bysiewicz of finger-pointing.

“Your letter minimizes your office’s involvement and responsibility, casts blame where it is not deserved, and seriously undermines the mutual trust that we have worked as an IT service provider to develop,” Wallace wrote Bysiewicz. “As you know, the application was developed by private consultants, hired by the secretary of the state’s office. . . . The system has a well-known history of sub-par performance and requires more than the seasonal and sporadic attention afforded to it by your office.”

Bysciewicz replied that she is not trying to blame the information technology department but wants assurance her office’s needs are prioritized.

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One response to “Voter Registration System – Lots Of Finger Pointing”

  1. ct registrar

    Criticism of the State Voter file system is justified. It was flawed when created, the State has been slow if not unwilling to correct some of the flaws, and upgrades are few, far between, and incomplete. Stamford had a registry system on day one which was better than the State system, and in many ways still outperforms the state system five years later. Several parts of the system touted five years ago are not, and have never been functional.

    Enhancements, once agreed to by the State, usually take over a year to implement. For five years, we have sought the abillity to search for a voter by date of birth or by a patrtial name (Thereby getting around mispelled or hyphenated names). The State has been unable or unwilling to accommodate this simple request. The current enhancement package was completed close to a year ago, but due to elections and staff workloads, has yet to be tested or installed, and once installed will be close to two years behind our current requests.

    The way it works is the Registrars put together a wish list, and the SOTS decides which are feasible. Then they keep a list for several years until we gripe loud enough, and finally put together a package of enhancements which are tested for at least six months and then installed. This so called scotch tape system has kept the system going for five years, but desparately needs a complete overhaul, rewrite, or replacement.

    Connectivity, or the abillity to use the system, has always been a problem, and the fault lies squarly with DOIT. The take the state computers down for maintenance at will without warning, explanation, or any consideration of Registrars need for access. Dedicated band width has always been inadequate.

    The Governor’s excuse that the problems fall upon the Sec. nof State for not having a better system is an example of buck passing at its best. The system was defined within the constraints of budget and DOIT’s wiliingness and abillity to accommodate. We have been asking for years for improved connectivity, and have been answered with nothing but empty promises.

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