Courant Editorial: “State Must Review Ballot Blunders” – We agree and disagree

Courant Editorial: State Must Review Ballot Blunders <read>

There are areas where we agree and disagree with the Courant:

Hartford Courant: “By all means, Gov. M. Jodi Rell should assemble a bipartisan panel to review Bridgeport’s ballot blunders — with an eye to preventing mistakes, not to casting suspicion on the outcome of the Nov. 2 governor’s election, the closest in 56 years.

Legislative leaders ought to have a say in the panel’s makeup, since they’ll have a say in the remedies.”

We agree with appointing a group to study our current election system and recommend solutions. The Legislature obviously should be involved. We are less confident that the lame duck Governor should appoint the panel. There should be a strong emphasis on addressing the whole system of election administration in Connecticut. As we said two days ago, Editorial: Understand all the Symptoms, “Explore the Options, Then Act”

CTVotersCount: “Editorials and legislators are already reacting and taking sides to solve the “ballot printing” problem. It is critical to understand the entire scope of issues and inadequacies in all aspects of the election process; then review all the options, look for local best practices in Connecticut and explore what other states do well; then and only then develop a comprehensive cure. This is the common sense way to proceed, unfortunately it is hard work from start to implementation. Otherwise we are destined to react to one problem at a time, with one expensive, disruptive band-aid after another.

In its last paragraph, the Courant hits the nail on the head:

Hartford Courant: “State leaders have to do better at ensuring competently run elections in towns and cities at risk of being overwhelmed by the task.”

And the Courant is correct in recommending a second set of eyes:

Hartford Courant: “Somewhere in the process, probably in the secretary of the state’s office, a second set of eyes should check the number of ballots ordered, at the least.”

We would go further with a recommendation that almost everything to do with election management requires a second set of eyes, usually with opposing interests: Ordering ballots, reviewing petitions, voter registrations, ballot observation and transport, when ballots are counted by hand, and every step of the way in accumulating vote totals across the state.

We note that there are two registrars in Bridgeport, elected to use their two eyes and two brains to represent opposing interests toward voting integrity and access.  Today, would the Courant maintain or reconsider its past editorial position proposing a single registrar per town, not in the interest of integrity, but in the interest of saving money? See our post: Downsizing Newspaper Recommends Downsizing Registrars.  As we said then:

CTVotersCount: “Most of us would agree that Central Connecticut needs more than one daily newspaper. If there was any doubt it certainly was erased this week. On Monday the “New” Hartford Courant came out with its latest and most drastic downsizing. On Tuesday an editorial suggesting among other things that we should have a single elected registrar per municipality. However, downsizing to a single registrar will serve democracy no better than the continuous downsizing of the Courant…

For a city the size of Hartford there should be no problem having three registrars and the costs should be minimal. Each city sets the budget, salary, hours, benefits, and staffing of their Registrars Of Voters Office. Hartford could simply cut staffing and perhaps cut registrars’ hours or salary when three are elected to do the job of two. Just cutting a full time staff position would go a long way toward reducing most of the $200,000…

In Connecticut, perhaps electing two official registrars paid a small stipend to provide a check and balance over a professional civil service chief election official would provide the best of both worlds and would work for large cities. This would not work for small towns – a single chief election official and staff would need to serve several small towns – a change that would not easily be accepted in New England.

What clearly won’t work is half baked solutions.”

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