CT

May Post-Municipal Election Audit Drawing

A few municipalities conduct elections in May rather than November. We joined Deputy Secretary of the State Scott Bates, Assistant Secretary Peggy Reeves, and SOTS Office Interns for the drawing. Sadly, due to last year’s reduction in the audit, only one district will be audited.

We strongly object to the official press release’s characterization of Connecticut’s Post-Election Audit as “Comprehensive”. A comprehensive audit would not exempt ballots from selection for audit, it would audit the totaling of votes, and include compliance audits of all aspects of the election such as checkin lists, voter roles, and ballot security.

National Popular Vote Compact fails 90 minute debate, sanity prevails for unknown reasons

It is rare that a bill is debated that has insufficient majority caucus support to pass.

 [Speaker] Aresimowicz said he’s heard from his constituents that they want the issue debated.“I’m saying let’s at least hear it out and have the discussion,” Aresimowicz said Thursday morning during a press conference in his office before the House debated the bill.

House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said he expects the vote to be close and it’s unclear what will happen.

Here, we disagree with both sides.  We do not buy the Republican arguments against nor the Democratic arguments for the bill.  We would support a sufficient Constitutional Amendment.  The Compact approach is dangerous making, a flawed system worse. It will lead to increased voter suppression and skulduggery.v

Denise Merrill mostly right on Trump voting witch hunt commission

 

Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill , said,“The rationale for this commission was articulated in a baseless tweet from the president that claimed millions of illegal votes were cast. The facts don’t lie. Voter fraud is extremely rare. Yet time and again, the specter of voter fraud has served as an excuse to disenfranchise tens of thousands of eligible voters. I hope that this investigation is not a fig leaf for voter suppression and intimidation. In Connecticut, we will protect every eligible person’s right to vote. I stand by our process and our elections officials.”

This reminds us of the Bush era witch hunt in the Justice Department for voter fraud.  Several attorneys were let go because they could not find or refused to continue hunting for all but non-existent fraud.

We do question Secretary Merrill’s statement that “In Connecticut, we will protect every eligible person’s right to vote. I stand by our process and our elections officials.”

Random drawing issues in the Nutmeg State

Connecticut is known as the “Nutmeg State” based on the legend of Yankee Peddlers selling wooden nutmegs to unsuspecting New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians.  True or not, there is little reason to trust anyone here when it comes to random drawings.  Recent history leaves us with little trust in officials and random drawings.

The Secretary of the State’s Office has improved the integrity of the post-election audit drawing, yet two problems remain.

How easy would it be to rig the next election? Very Easy

Article at Think Progress: How easy would it be to rig the next election? 

In the popular imagination, this is what election hacking looks like?—?dramatic, national-scale interference that manually rewrites tallies and hands the victory to the outlier. Certainly these attacks may occur. However, they’re only one of a variety of electoral hacks possible against the United States, at a time when hacking attacks are becoming more accessible to threat-actors and nation-state-sponsored attackers are growing more brazen. Yes, hackers may attempt to change the vote totals for American elections?—?but they can also de-register voters, delete critical data, trip up voting systems to cause long lines at polling stations, and otherwise cultivate deep distrust in the legitimacy of election results. If hackers wish to rig a national election, they can do it by changing only small numbers on a state level.

What can we learn from a jurisdiction in NY that hand-counts every vote?

I recently attended a presentation by Columbia County, NY, Election Commissioner Vivian Martin on the post-election audit/recount performed after every election.  It should be of interest to every citizen concerned with trust in elections and every election official: “You Can’t Count Paper Ballots”  Want to bet?  

After every election (using optical scanners) they count every ballot a second time by hand.  What can we learn in Connecticut, “The Land of Steady Habits?

We are not necessarily convinced that we need to go as far as Columbia County.  Yet, Connecticut needs a much stronger, more comprehensive, transparent audit; we need a stronger more transparent chain-of-custody; a more uniform, higher quality recanvass.  There is no reason, other than “we have always done it this way”, for our current post-election schedule.  We could perform rigorous automatic recounts rather than recanvasses; we need more to declare and perform recounts/recanvasses. We could emulate other states and perform audits shortly after the election, delaying rigorous/adversarial recounts to later and providing weeks for their completion.

Surprising statements by Denise Merrill and Neil Jenkins

Denise Merrill, Secretary of the State and President of the National Association of Secretaries of State and Neil Jenkins from Homeland Security spoke on NPR on election integrity.  <listen>

We disagree with both their similar statements:

.”Because our system is highly decentralized there’s no way to disrupt the voting process in any large-scale meaningful way through cyber attacks because there’s no national system to attack,” [Merrill] said Tuesday at a hearing before the U.S. Election Assistance Commission on the impact of the critical infrastructure designation.

Jenkins was quoted as saying “having thousands of elections offices each with their own systems making hacking elections nearly impossible”

NPV Forum in Greenwich

Tuesday I participated in a forum/debate on the National Popular Vote Compact. Greenwich Time has a vary fair article on the event <read>

In one of the photos I am holding a 1118 page book that is free. Instead, I recommend two books that are shorter, that are worth reading, and worth much more than you will pay for them!

I also have some comments on the uniqueness of an event where individuals claim that Connecticut voters would appreciate more money in politics.

 

Controlling Voting Algorithms is Critical

A short op-ed in the Courant from Bloomberg View, by Cathy O’Neil describes the risks of artificial intelligence algorithms used  by the likes of Facebook and Google: Controlling A Pervasive Use Of Algorithms Critical 

We should have concerns with algorithms beyond Artificial Intelligence. The same concerns apply to any algorithm (computer code/manual process), such as voting machines.  We have no access to the code in our AccuVoteOS optical scanners. Yet we know from studies such as the California Top-To-Bottom-Review,  Hacking Democracy’s Hursti Hack, and studies by UConn that the system is vulnerable to attack.  We do not know and cannot know for sure if the software running on a particular AccuVoteOS and its memory card is correct and accurate.

Report: Presidential Election Audit: Suffers Two Blows to Credibility

Citizen Audit: Two Blows to Connecticut Election Audits
Leave Them Weaker, Less Credible

 

From the Press Release:

In spite of growing national concerns about election integrity, election credibility in Connecticut has suffered two devastating blows:

  • The Connecticut General Assembly cut post-election audits in half from 10% to 5% of voting districts, and failed to fix glaring weaknesses in the state’s audit law.
  • Shockingly, Connecticut has become the first state to replace verifiable hand-count audits with unverifiable electronic audits. Now the public can’t verify audit results.

“It need not be this way. Electronic audits can be manually verified without sacrificing efficiency,” said Luther Weeks, Executive Director of Connecticut Citizen Election Audit. “Because audits are conducted by the same officials responsible for conducting elections, audits must be transparent and publicly verifiable,” he said.

The Citizen Election Audit also found continuing problems with how municipalities conducted audits. “The Secretary’s Office should take the lead in ensuring that audits are complete, credible, and publicly verifiable,” Weeks said. “The public, candidates, and Secretary Merrill should expect local election officials to organize audits that produce accurate audit reports,” he said.

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