The road from levers to optical scan

Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), intended to provide independent voting to person’s with disabilities and to solve voting problems, like those in Florida in 2000.

To comply with HAVA, Connecticut had to replace its lever voting machines with DRE (touch screen) or Optical Scan voting machines. Congress provided funds to each state to assist with the transition.

In 2005, the Connecticut Legislature passed Senate Bill 55 which mandated a verifiable paper record for every vote.

After a long process involving two Requests For Proposals of DRE equipment, voter feedback on DRE equipment, input from registrars, input from advocacy groups, and missed deadlines, the Secretary of The State chose Optical Scan voting equipment from Diebold Election Systems.

Optical Scan voting machines provide the voter and election officials the assurance of a paper record that can be used for auditing and recounting an election. In addition Optical Scan equipment is more economical than DRE equipment, leaving more HAVA funds available to assist with training, purchasing ballots, and auditing.

In February 2007, Secretary of The State proposed SB1311 to audit at 20% of districts and 100% all races. Voting advocates applauded those audit levels but expressed concerns with several other provisions of the proposal. Registrars and town expressed concerns with costs of auditing.

In June 2007, the Connecticut Legislature passed Public Act 07-194 which mandated election audits after state and municipal elections and primaries at the level of 10% of a minimum of 3 or 20% of races. Unfortunately, the act is inadequate to detect most errors or deter most fraud.

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