Danbury GAE Hearing

The Danbury hearing saw smaller attendance and fewer speakers than the previous three hearings. Yet, like the others it had its own tone and provided fresh prospectives.

Speaking first was Mary Ann Stilson, Registrar of Voters, Goshen.
She expressed concerns as a 1st year “volunteer” registrar. Her day job is probate clerk and probate clerk trainer. She said there was not enough training, she signed up for Moderator training, her application was lost and the class was full when she checked. Not enough training specifically for Moderators. Small towns are reluctant to pay what it takes to run elections.

Clinton Hughes, optical scan was good, fun to use, yet he liked the sound of the lever machines.

George Barnett, TrueVoteCT, New Milford <testimony>

I am a former corporate auditor and have been involved in the election reform issue for the last three years. I am also a poll worker in New Milford and I witnessed the post election audit process for the optical scan voting machines in Monroe, CT after the 2006 trial run.

Connecticut has turned on the security system, by requiring audits, but by not following up on the differences we are essentially not responding when the alarm goes off. Please establish an independent audit board so we can determine the causes of the differences between the machine counts and the audit hand counts

The committee asked George about the size and composition of the committee. George recommended five to seven with backgrounds in auditing, statistics, and computing.

Christine Horrigan, Director of Government, League of Women Voters Connecticut
Speaking for League Members and as an audit observer. Most glaring deficiency is lack of consistency. SOTS procedures need revision. Mixed commitment on the part of registrars. Some problems due to initial uses of new technology. Lack of training of poll workers by registrars. Privacy varies from town to town. There is a need to audit the audits. Suggested reinstitution of the former Voting Technology Standards Boards to balance interests of stakeholders.

Representative Caruso mentioned the possibility of hearings with DOIT and the SOTS Office to investigate voter registration system problems.

Judy Boudreau, Registrar, Vernon
Contractor for the SOTS to do registrar training. (The committee had earlier discussed the idea of certifying moderators, and requiring that certification). She said Moderator training was five hours and for years has resulted in certification and is required of moderators. However, Registrars are elected officials and frequently they appoint people she as flunked as moderators anyway. She characterized the problem as “patronage” and that some registrars have “one foot on the banana peal”.

Representative Caruso again mentioned consistency. He mentioned previous testimony that registrars say they have violated the law. He said the “wild west approach” needs to end.

Representative Hetherington asked how to make registrar a position people would want. Boudreau suggested getting the position out of the political system, that most of the rest of the country hires registrars.

Boudreau mentioned ballot chain of custody issues. Mentioned that the 2nd District recount (by machine in 2006) was right on the button and that U.S. Representative Joe Courtney said he would not want it any other way. (Note: Representative Courtney is a co-sponsor of the Holt Emergency Bill HR 5036 for voluntary audits and HR 811 for mandatory audits)

Paul Rotello, Danbury City Council
The whole system in Danbury was unbelievably smooth. Problems of drift and privacy. Privacy problems when ballots are returned to ballot clerk for another one. Electorate has to have confidence. Has seen thing he saw disturbing – hearing stories of ballot counters changing and not changing, he watched his in the primary – it went from 264 to 267. Concerned with potential for hacking. Need better chain of custody on ballots.

Bob Godfrey, Danbury, Deputy Speaker, Connecticut House
Critical need that people be secure in Democracy. One problem is privacy folders need to be big enough when using the larger ballots. He was skeptical of the idea of an Audit Board – “Who would watch the Audit Board”.

We talked to Representative Godfrey after the hearing. I pointed to the success of the Election Enforcement Commission and the State Auditors – appointed by politicians but seemingly working well. He said that was different because the State Auditors dealt with finance. I am not convinced. The current system does not seem to be working and will always look suspicious without an independent audit authority.

(Once again I am not a reporter. Apologies for names misspelled, points missed, and incorrect. Corrections will be cheerfully made.)

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