Government Administration and Elections Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING THE INTEGRITY AND SECURITY OF THE VOTING PROCESS.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Government Administration and Elections Committee
REASONS FOR BILL:
To provide the Secretary of the State the ability to order the recanvass of certain election returns.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Jeffery B. Garfield, Executive Director – State Elections Enforcement Commission
The effect of this legislation would be to outlaw lever voting machines in referenda and municipal elections; this would streamline the elections systems for federal, state and now municipal elections. Mr. Garfield expressed strong support of the auditing component of this bill as a means to ensure the public's confidence in the newly employed voting systems. He did suggest that the Commission be involved in the auditing processes and duly informed of all errors flagged. The Commission's knowledge and involvement in possible errors is important because they can offer invaluable information in the event of an ensuing investigation. The Commission would also like to be included in the lockout portion of the bill (Line 95) and would like to continue to be able to hold local election officials accountable for errors in the setup of the new voting systems.
Christine Horrigan, Director – League of Women Voters in Connecticut
The League of Woman Voters strongly believes in mandatory and random audits for all voting machines to ensure that they are secure, accurate, recountable and accessible. They believe that the current bill does not go far enough to protect the security of the elections.
They offered the following suggestions:
• The audit requirement should apply to all federal, state and municipal elections
• The audit requirement should apply to primaries
• All races on the ballot in the district should be subject to an audit
• The bill should explicitly state that the paper ballot filled out by the elector is the official record of the elector's vote, and when there is a discrepancy between paper and mechanical votes, the paper ballot trumps.
• During a recanvass, there should be a manual tally of the paper ballots
With the aforementioned additions to the bill, the League of Women voters will support its passage.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Ralph Morelli, Professor at Trinity College & Member of TrueVoteCT – Wethersfield, CT
Mr. Morelli strongly supports the need for auditing legislation to protect against accidental or deliberate counting errors in the electronic voting machines. This bill would require auditing of no less than 20% of the voting districts in the state, which is overly sufficient. Mr. Morelli did offer a suggestion in regards to the manner in which the audit occurs. He suggested that auditors use the tiered approach that was modeled in the “holt bill” and was supported by top computer scientists and election integrity experts in the country. The possible advantage of this model is that it will reduce the burden on election officials without sacrificing security.
Richard Sivel – Connecticut Citizen Action Group
The Connecticut Citizen Action Group strongly supports the passage of this legislation. They did however raise other issues that they would like to be addressed. They contend that when a recanvass is ordered, there should be a manual recount of paper ballots. They would like the reinstatement of the Voting Technology Standards Board to provide input on the selection of new voting technology. There should be a ban on outsourcing any part of the electronic process (especially memory cards) and there should be open data formats for ballot programming and election-related electronic data.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Kachina Walsh-Weaver – Connecticut Conference of Municipalities
This bill would mandate new audit procedures that could be overly cumbersome and costly to the municipalities. CCM would like to work with the Secretary of the State's office to craft the language in a way that their concerns are appeased and that the overall goal of the bill is still achieved.
George Barnett – New Milford, CT
Mr. Barnett is a former corporate auditor and works at the polls in New Milford. He opposes this bill and cites many of his concerns. The bill would give too much power to the Secretary of the State's office and it would, in effect, create a conflict of interest because the same office that is responsible for clean and accurate elections is also required to identify discrepancies in the elections. He believes that there should be a permanent Voter Technology Standards Board to oversee the auditing process and to determine when expanded audits should take place. He stated that they should calculate how many towns to audit by the election results and not an arbitrary 20%. There should be guidelines for an independent board to determine when extended audits should occur. Also, when there are discrepancies between machine and hand counts, the state should have the right to examine the code within the voting machines that tabulates the ballots, which should also be done by the Voting Technology Standards Board.
Michael Fischer – TrueVoteCT
TrueVoteCt opposes this legislation because they feel that the interpretation and response to the audit results is left entirely up to the Secretary of the States office; he or she in that office may choose to act if it is in his or her opinion that the voting system failed to count votes accurately. They contend that this puts too much power in one office and there should be some mechanism for an independent check on the elections systems. Also, TrueVoteCT believes that audits should be completed prior to the deadline for filing a complaint, as a means to be fair to the losing candidates. As it stands, 1311 mandates that audits be delayed until after the deadline, the effect of this would be if the candidate does complain it exempts that race from an audit so it is impossible to show the results of the audit itself.
Reported by: Ashley Hobart