Secretary’s Office and registrars test new election reporting system

For some time, we have been calling for a better election night reporting system that would be subject to addition and transcription errors, contain detailed district data, and provide data to candidates and the public. It was one of the items on our list of What Could a Secretary of the State Do, started in the 2010 campaign for that office:

Provide detailed, accurate, downloadable, election information and notices on the Secretary of the State’s web site

In a PEW study the Connecticut site ranked 48th out of 50 states.  We could debate if we should be higher in the rankings, or instead work to emulate and surpass the top ranked states.

The process of accumulating voting results in Connecticut is an error-prone three step process of addition and transcription, from polling place, to town hall, to the Secretary of the State’s Office, and to the web.  Citizens have identified errors large and moderate – errors of a magnitude  which could change election results, the initiation of recanvasses, or ballot access. See <here> <here>

Without reliable, publicly posted results, post-election audits cannot be accomplished which inspire confidence and provide integrity.  A trusted audit requires selecting districts for audit against previously posted results.  Since we audit against optical scanner tapes, and the tape results are not posted, then we fail to meet that requirement.

We applauded when it was one of the items in the Elections Performance Task Force Report released this spring:

15. The Secretary recommends immediate implementation of a statewide web-based electronic reporting system for election results.

CTNewsJunkie covers the test with views from several registrars:  State Used Primary to Pilot New Election Results Reporting System <read> Last week we discovered, and along with other advocates, reviewed the webcast which described the system to registrars that were part of the pilot.

From what we can tell, the system may well meet the needs for better reporting that would dramatically move us forward in the PEW criteria, and more importantly, toward higher accuracy and higher election integrity. We especially appreciate the input of district Moderators’ Returns and the promised immediate public access to all the detailed data. Yet, the devil is often in the details: Will the Moderators’ Returns include the critical Moderator’s Log? Should the data be reviewed by the Head Moderator before it is available to the public? I would seem easy for a moderator after a 17 hour day to make a data entry error that might go unnoticed. There will be a lot of training necessary if each moderator is expected to input the data in each polling place. Perhaps most multi-polling place towns should start with data entry in a central location with the moderators observing and checking while someone else inputs the data. We are also skeptical of the “Smart Phone” interface – in a Municipal Election, especially, there is a lot of data to enter and the Moderator’s Return can be extensive as well – how long will that take with a small smartphone screen and a small keyboard?

In any case, this seems to be a great start toward a much improved process. After implementation for election night, the system should also be extended to report the results of recanvasses and post-election audits.

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One response to “Secretary’s Office and registrars test new election reporting system”

  1. hapless registrar

    Early, incomplete, and incorrect returns were a curse upon the 2010 election. To now have moderators in every polling place sending returns to Hartford would risk common mistakes becoming the ‘fact’ and any subsequent correction the ‘suspect’ change.

    Moderator reportrs are submitted to the Registrars, who turns them over to the head moderator for the ‘official’ tally. this is where the electronic entry should be done. These ‘district’ reports may or may not include Absentee voting, which would require further explanation. The Registrars bear the burden of accuracy .

    The idea is good, but should be done centrally, with limited data transmitted (Votes only), and that these are preliminary numbers must be made clear to the press and public.

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