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TrueVote 2007 Legislative Focus 2/28/2007

This year the Connecticut Legislature is considering several bills that affect voting and elections in our state.  These bills cover a wide range of the election process including campaign advertising, robo calls, election day registrations, voting technology, audits, and recounts.  TrueVote CT has continued our  focus on educating voting officials and the public on technical issues of voting technology, to help ensure that Connecticut has the most trustworthy voting technology available, along with with sufficient audit and recount procedures to ensure integrity of our elections.

TrueVote Testifies at GAE Public Hearing on Proposed SB1311

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz proposed legislation to address concerns with voting technology, audits, and recounts.  Her proposal was entered into the legislative process as Senate Bill 1311. She announced her proposal at a press conference held on February 27, 2007. The Government Administration and Elections Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly held a public hearing on February 28, 2007, to hear comment on SB 1311 as well as several other bills.

Four representatives of TrueVote testified to the strong points and inadequacies of SB1311 at the public hearing:

A video of the hearing is available from CT-N at . Speakers for TrueVote appear at approximately 0:18 (h:mm), 1:26, 2:33 , and 2:37 into the video.  The Secretary of the State appears at 2:48 (h:mm) into the video.

Following members of the public, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz testified   <prepared testimony>.  She spoke to an updated version of SB1311 which addresses some of the  concerns expressed at the hearing. She pledged to continue working with concerned groups, including TrueVote CT, League of Women Voters, and DemocracyWorks, to further improve the bill.

Remaining Concerns with SB1131

A major concern that TrueVote has with SB1311 is that the bill would place audit responsibility in the hands of the same person, the Secretary of the State, who is also the official charged with selecting equipment, creating regulations, and conducting elections. Human nature creates biases and pressures for the person who specifies and oversees a system, the election staff they train, and the contractors they hire, to declare that each election was accurate and exemplary. Our system of government, based on checks and balances, suggests that the public interest would be best served by moving responsibility for audits to an independent election oversight body.

An audit should provide some independent check on those powers.  This isn't just about machines -- it's about the entire voting process  -- who programs the machines, who certifies them, who provides technical advice etc. etc. It also isn't just about the current occupant of the SOTS office -- its about who's going to be sitting there in the future as well.  To have the SOTS audit the procedures that he or she controls is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house"
 - Michael Fischer

"I also want to congratulate the Secretary of the State for her wise selection of optical scan machines for CT and for her decision to conduct a voluntary random audit in last  November's election...SB1311 would require an audit of not less than 20%...I can certainly live with this number...However, I would like to call the committee's attention to an alternative model of selecting audit percentages"
  - Ralph Morelli

"Besides audits, there are other issues related to voting technology which we believe should be addressed in this or other legislation...A ban on the outsourcing of any part of the election process...This would ensure that Connecticut officials would remain in control of all aspects of our voting system...    Open data formats for ballot programming and election-related electronic data, including electronic ballots, tallies and audit logs...In summary, CCAG strongly supports proposed bill SB1311 and respectfully requests the committee to consider the additional proposals I have outlined."
  - Richard Sivel

"I am a former corporate auditor and have been involved in the election reform issue for the last two years. I am also a poll worker in New Milford and I reviewed the audit process for the new optical scan voting machines in Monroe, CT.. Bill No. 1311 is a positive step but it has several flaws and omissions. In general, the biggest problem with the bill is that it gives too much power to the Secretary of the State’s (SOTS) office"
  - George Barnett

Other TrueVote concerns have to do with the timing of the audits and procedures for dealing with discrepencies discovered during the audits.

A TrueVote Vindication

The following editorial appeared in the Hartford Courant on December 7, 2006.

Connecticut owes TrueVote CT a debt of gratitude.

This time last year, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz's office was putting the finishing touches on a contract with Danaher Controls, the maker of an electronic ATM-style voting machine, to replace the traditional lever-style machines in the state's 769 polling places.

TrueVote CT, a citizens group of computer experts and professors, was a vocal critic of the technology, arguing it was costly, complicated and corruptible. Instead, they said, Connecticut should go with an optical-scan machine, in which a voter marks a ballot that is then scanned by a computer.

Around the time the agreement with Danaher was to be signed, Ms. Bysiewicz abruptly announced the deal was off; she accused the company of failing to meet the bid requirements and of misleading her agency.

Several months later, during an August press conference, Ms. Bysiewicz appeared with members of TrueVote CT to announce that her office had selected an optical-scan technology instead.

The wisdom of that choice was confirmed last week, when the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the federal government's premier research institutions, issued a draft report endorsing optical scanning as the most secure and reliable voting technology.

The report also concludes that ATM-style voting machines, especially ones lacking a "paper trail" or record for confirming votes, "cannot be made secure." Even machines that produce paper trails aren't trouble-free, according to the federal standards agency. In many cases, printers have jammed, causing election officials to speculate whether they are an improvement.

Many thanks to members of TrueVote CT. Their willingness to shoulder civic responsibility and to apply their expertise and vigilance to the cause has helped to protect and strengthen voting in Connecticut.

Copyright 2006, Hartford Courant

Read about True Vote's activities from  June 2006 through Aug 2006

Please explore this site and learn about the issues.



Last modified: Wed Mar 7 22:09:11 EST 2007 email to webmaster: Alice Fischer