Panel In Fairfield – What Do You Want?

Last night I was on a panel in Fairfield with Deputy Secretary of the State Lesley Mara, Dr. Alex Shvartsman from the UConn VoTeR Center, and Michael Kozik of the Secretary of the State’s Office. The event was video taped by the sponsors. If possible I will make the video availabe here. For now, here are my opening remarks, my topic was “What Do You Want”:

Fairfield Panel

Introduction

Thanks to Jody Eiseman for creating this event and to the Fairfield Democratic Town Committee for hosting it. Thanks to everyone of you in the audience for coming tonight.

I want to thank Dr. Shvartsman, Mike Kozik, and Deputy Mara for being here tonight. A bit over three years ago I was on a panel with the previous Deputy Secretary of the State. That panel directly precipitated actions that were instrumental in the passage of the paper ballot bill in 2005 and the eventual rejection of Touch Screen (DRE) voting equipment in early 2007.

CTVotersCount is committed to voting integrity and that our democracy flourishes.

Lest we forget, democracy is dependent on the voting integrity of every district in your town; dependent on the voting integrity of every district in the state; and indeed every district in the nation.

My Topic Tonight

My topic for the next few minutes is simple. It is: “What Do You Want”.

Let us begin with a quote from Colorado’s Secretary of State, Mike Coffman whose words inspired this talk and a quote from our own Secretary of the State, Susan Bysiewicz.

Secretary Bysiewicz sent a letter in March to voters like you, who signed our petition last year. She said, in part: “We still have a lot of work to do and we need concerned citizens like you to stay involved…I share your belief that we should make our audit law the strongest in the nation and that its size and scope is adequate to achieve its goals…”

In June, Colorado’s Mike Coffman gave his view, of activists like CTVotersCount, “I think they have a fundamental belief that anything electronic, as it relates to voting, is evil and undermines our political system,”…”They believe in a world of conspiracy theories and are highly motivated. No matter what I do, so long as it leaves some form of electronic voting intact, it will be wrong by their standards.”

I agree with both of them. With Secretary Bysiewicz that we still “have a lot of work to do”; With Secretary Coffman, that voting advocates are “highly motivated”.

However, I do not believe that “anything electronic” is “evil” nor do I have a goal of eliminating “anything electronic” from voting.

So, What Should You Want?

Most fundamentally, five things:

  • That the ballot is secret, votes cannot be bought, coerced, added, lost, or modified
  • That your vote is counted, counted accurately, and counted exactly once
  • That everyone’s vote is counted accurately and reflected in the election results
  • That everyone has confidence that everyone’s vote is counted accurately
  • That, failing any of the above, appropriate corrective action will be taken

You deserve no more and no less. Democracy requires no less. Do you want anything less? Do you believe democracy can exist and flourish with less?

I’m open to any solution that will ensure Democracy. Whatever we can implement that ensures Democracy and is most efficient for officials and most convenient for the voters, I will support it.

So, Where Do We Go From Here?

We do not have a blank slate. We have just spent millions of dollars on purchasing the most cost effective, most voter verifiable, and auditable type of electronic voting system available, that meet Federally mandated requirements.

I could talk of the long term, realistically six to ten years off. But Democracy cannot wait. There are real risks now. There are actions we can take over the next two years to ensure Democracy in Connecticut – to lead the way for the Nation. Yes, I said two years, if we start now, taking decisive action, with the equipment we have.

The Short List

Let me finish with the short list of what we need to do now, over the next two years. The three items I think of when Secretary Bysiewicz says “We still have a lot of work to do”:

First, an element of prevention. Each of our elections is programmed in Massachusetts by contractors; Contractors over which we have little, if any, oversight. UConn has developed an outstanding program to independently test the memory cards to detect many potential errors or fraud. 100% of our memory cards need to be tested independently in Connecticut with that program; before the cards are shipped to election officials; before the cards are used in any election.

Second, an element of detection and confidence: We need strong post-election audits to detect errors and fraud. Our current audits are insufficient, unreliable and ineffective. Our audits should be based on the current science of election auditing and recognized post-election audit principles.

Third, a solid chain-of-custody to make credible elections and audits possible. We need to protect and account for ballots before, during, and after the election. Ballots, memory cards, and optical scanners must be protected from illegal modification or covert access whenever they could be compromised.

Would you trust chain-of-custody standards less than those we require for evidence in criminal cases?

In Summary

You are committed to the proposition that Democracy survive and flourish. We have serious work to do. It can happen in Connecticut. Voting Integrity, like the Constitution, can start here in the Constitution State and spread to the Nation.

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