Accessible and Verifiable Voting in Connecticut
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TrueVote Opposes Proposed Legislation (4/18/06)

TrueVote Connecticut opposes two bills currently before the State Legislature.
  • SB 67 would reconstitute the Voting Technology Standards Board as a permanent body, which we favor. However SB 67 would dilute the technical expertise on the board and strip it of its role as an independent impartial entity in voting technology matters. The changes to eliminate the Governor's mandate to appoint a representative "for governmental accountability", to give the SOTS the power to designate the chair and vice-chair, and to restrict the pool of technical experts available for service on the Board to just those from the Connecticut State University System, all damage the Board's ability to solve the complex voting technology issues facing the State and make it little more than window-dressing for decisions that the SOTS is already empowered to make.
  • SB 181 would mandate a full-face ballot for the State. Voting technology is in a period of rapid change. A full-face ballot is only one possibility for addressing the problem of "fall-off" voting, where voters fail to vote for lesser offices, and it introduces problems of its own when combined with modern voting machine technology. Other technologies, such as those requiring an explicit "no vote" indication from the voter for every office, might prove to be both more effective and less expensive than a full-face ballot. It is premature to be mandating one solution over another to a complex technical problem such as this.
Please click here for a fuller description of our reasons for opposing both bills.

TrueVote Connecticut Requests Revision of State Plan

True Vote Connecticut announced at a press conference on Thursday, December 8, that it has delivered a letter to Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz calling on her to revise the 2003 State Hava Plan to account for material changes in the voting landscape resulting from:
  1. The availability of Federally-certified accessible op scan technology.
  2. The passage of SB55 requiring voter-verified paper records.
  3. The passage of HB6669 establishing the Voting Technology Standards Board.
  4. The EAC advisory ruling requiring the towns to replace their lever machines by 1/1/06.
  5. The failure of the EAC to publish updated voting machine standards, leaving to the State the job of judging technical compliance of voting machines with HAVA requirements.
  6. The long delays in the RFP process, making it impossible to meet the 1/1/06 deadline for having new equipment in place.
  7. The inadequacies of the three finalists as shown in the demos.
Procedures for revising the Plan are spelled out in the HAVA legislation and in section (K) page 19 of the Plan.

TrueVoteCT Responds to SOTS Letter of October 5

In a letter to Secretary Susan Bysiewicz dated October 26, 2005, TrueVoteCT Director Willard W. Bunnell reiterates TrueVoteCT's status as a non-profit, non-partisan organization with no vendor affiliation, and he addresses Bysiewicz's apparent confusion over TrueVoteCT's reasons for focussing on certain voting machine technologies.  TrueVoteCT remains perplexed by the SOTS's dogmatic pursuit of DRE's and her continued shunning of a prudent technical and economic assessment of the range of voting systems and technologies available today.

SOTS Refuses to Meet with TrueVoteCT

TrueVoteCT has sent three letters to the Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz since May 2005 expressing our concern with the current RFP and its plan to acquire DRE machines to the exclusion of alternative technologies such as optical scan with ballot marking devices. The SOTS response to the first two letters shows a lack of understanding of many of the subtle issues involved in voting technology. The September 19 letter addresses the recent EAC advisory ruling requiring the replacement of lever machines and offers to meet with the SOTS to discuss these issues. In her October 5 response, the SOTS ignores the substantive issues we raise, groundlessly impunes the integrity of TrueVoteCT, and refuses to meet with us. We do not understand why she and her office attempt to discredit her critics rather than openly addressing their concerns.

Analysis of the RFP for Voting Machines in CT

The voting machine landscape has changed dramatically since December 2004 when the SOTS issued an RFP to put one DRE machine in each polling place. Experience of other states has shown DRE machines to be more costly to operate and less reliable than previously believed. At the same time, there are now better alternatives for providing disabled voters with the ability to vote privately and independently. Unfortunately, Connecticut cannot consider these newer alternatives under the terms of the current RFP, but the State does have the right to modify or reissue the RFP if deemed to be in the best interests of the State. TrueVoteCT has prepared a new document, An Analysis of the Request for Proposals (RFP) for Voting Machines in Connecticut, that gives compelling reasons why the SOTS can and should modify or reissue the RFP.

TrueVoteCT Calls on SOTS to Consider Optical Scan Systems

Modern optical scan systems offer significant advantages over DRE machines, not only for lever machine replacement, but also for meeting HAVA's accessibility requirements for the disabled. Supporting arguments were sent in a letter to the SOTS on September 19, 2005, urging her "to reevaluate the various technological options that are available." The current RFP, which considers only DRE machines and addresses only the accessibility requirements of HAVA, should be cancelled and replaced by a new comprehensive RFP that addresses all of the voting machine requirements that the towns must meet and considers all available technologies.

EAC Advises that Lever Machines Must Be Replaced

The Election Assistance Commission issued an advisory ruling on September 8 that lever machines fail to meet HAVA requirements for manual audit capacity, even if outfitted with a "Print-o-Matic" device, so they cannot be used in any federal election after January 1, 2006. This means that Connecticut has only a short time for replacing the lever machines in all 169 towns. The SOTS issued a press release in response to the advisory announcing that she "is convening a meeting of chief municipal and election officials and legislative leaders on Wednesday, September 21st at 10AM in order to ensure that Connecticut is prepared to comply with the advisory opinion."

Response to SOTS Q&A

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz sponsored a panel discussion titled "Best Practices for Voting Machines in Connecticut" on Wednesday, June 15, 2005. At that time, she passed out a handout in Q&A form, New Voting Machine Update for Connecticut, which addresses many questions of importance concerning Connecticut?s plans to buy new voting machines. We find some of the Secretary's answers to be inaccurate or incomplete, so we have prepared a TrueVoteCT response with our own comments and opinions.

News Since Spring

The web site has been inactive since last spring. The major piece of news is that Senate Bill 55 has become "Public Act No. 05-188" and was signed into law on July 1, 2005, by Gov. Jodi Rell. Voter-verified paper trails are now required of all DRE machines in Connecticut! Congratulations to everyone for their help in making this a reality.

Show Your Support for Senate Bill 55

Senate Bill 55, which requires a voter-verified paper trail so that meaningful audits and recounts are possible, was passed unanimously by the Senate. Now it goes on to the house. Please go to the action alert and let your representatives know how important it is to get this bill passed by the House and signed into law.

SB 55 Progressing Through the Legislative Process

Common Cause and TrueVoteCT held a joint press conference with Lieutenant Governor Kevin Sullivan on Monday, April 4, at the state Capitol in Hartford. The Lieutenant Governor, Rep. Caruso, Rep. O'Brien, and Rep. Floren joined the two advocacy groups in urging support of Senate Bill 55 which requires an accessible, voter-verifiable paper ballot for all new voting machines purchased by the state. SB 55 was favorably reported out of the Government Administration and Elections (GAE) committee last week and is now headed for the floor of the State Senate. Also released today are three statements in support of voter verified paper records: The current draft of SB 55 is available here.

TrueVoteCT Meets with Senator Christopher Dodd's Staff

Members of TrueVoteCT discussed HAVA-related issues at length with Ms. Kennie Gill in a conference call from Senator Dodd's Connecticut Headquarters on March 17. Ms. Gill is described as Senator Dodd's HAVA expert and is the person who drafted HAVA in the first place. Our impressions of the many issues discussed are summarized in a meeting report (also available in PDF format).

What Will It Cost to Replace CT's Lever Machines?

Connecticut's aging lever machines will need to be upgraded or replaced by January 1, 2006, in order to comply with two requirements of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA):
  1. At least one voting machine in each precinct must be accessible to individuals with disabilities;
  2. Each voting machine must produce a (non-voter-verified) permanent paper record.

TrueVoteCT has analyzed three possible scenarios for meeting these requirements. The first two are based on the current state plan and RFP in which limited federal HAVA funds are used only to purchase DRE machines. Depending on whether the towns choose to replace their lever machines with additional DRE machines or with less-expensive optical scan systems, the cost to state taxpayers will be an estimated $12-18 million. The third scenario assumes a new plan that uses existing HAVA funds to purchase integrated voting systems designed to comply with both requirements. In this scenario, the costs are fully covered by federal money.

Our cost model and findings are presented in the report, Options for Replacing Connecticut's Voting Machines: A Cost Analysis. The Excel spreadsheet upon which the report is based can be used to see the effects of varying our assumptions (download).

TrueVoteCT Responds to Proposed Amended Bill 55

The Secretary of the State proposed amended language to Bill 55 on March 8. TrueVoteCT finds serious weaknesses in the amended language and has called on the SOTS to make revisions to guarantee that:

  • the accessible VVPR (which we call AVVPR) actually reflects the voter's intent,
  • the voter has an opportunity to review and correct any errors in the AVVPR before casting the ballot,
  • the AVVPR is the official ballot in case of recounts,
  • mandatory public random manual recounts take place, and
  • any discrepancies discovered be publicly disclosed.
Further, the effective date should be changed to July 1, 2005, so that any machines acquired under the current RFP will be fully accessible for both voting and voter-verification. These and other issues are described in greater detail in a letter to the Secretary of the State sent on March 10.

Thanks to for assisting in the preparation of this letter and for their continuing help to TrueVoteCT in its effort to achieve verified voting in Connecticut.

SOTS Supports Accessible Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail

The Secretary of the State, Susan Bysiewicz, announced at a meeting with TrueVoteCT on February 24 that she will support Bill 55 when amended to require that any voter-verified paper trail mechanism be accessible to all voters, including the disabled. Technology already exists with this capability, so there is no longer a tension between the needs for voter-verified paper audit trails and the needs of the disabled to be able to vote privately and independently.

Bill 55 Supporters Appear before the GAE Committee

Approximately 25 supporters of voter-verified paper audit trails in Connecticut attended a public hearing before the GAE committee on February 14 to support passage of SB55. All from the public who testified were in favor of the bill. The Secretary of the State, Susan Bysiewicz, also supported voter-verified paper audit trails but was opposed to SB 55 because of concerns for the disabled and various federal issues. All speakers were allowed 3 minutes for their oral testimony, and all were invited to submit written testimony as well. A selection of the written testimony presented appears below.

Show Your Support for Senate Bill 55

Public Hearings were held on Monday, February 14, on Senate Bill 55, An Act Promoting Voting System Accuracy, Integrity and Security Through Voter-Verified Permanent Paper Records. The bill is now being considered by the GAE Committee. This is the time to let your legislators know how you feel about the importance of voter verified paper ballots in future Connecticut voting systems. The more people who can attend the hearings, the better. If you can't come, then write to your legislators showing your support. See the press release and action alert for further information.

The Urgent Problem

The State of Connecticut recently issued an RFP (Request for Proposals) for purchase of electronic voting machines to replace the mechanical machines that have been in service for many years. These machines are now breaking down and parts are no longer available to fix them. Also, according to recent federal law, all states must adopt machines that are accessible to the disabled.

As a citizen of the state, I'm concerned about the Connecticut RFP because it seems to favor a kind of voting machine that cannot be audited and in which the final vote count is determined entirely by computer software. Several serious questions have arisen about the RFP and the process that produced it:

  1. Why does the RFP specify the purchase of unauditable, paperless, and expensive touch-screen DRE machines, when voters all over the country are demanding voter verified paper ballots?

  2. Why does the RFP not allow the purchase of precinct-count optical scan systems which are auditable, less expensive, and more accurate than paperless e-voting machines?

  3. Why was the public not allowed to participate in the RFP process before the RFP was issued?

All concerned citizens of Connecticut should do whatever they can now to let our state legislators and Secretary of State know that changes to the RFP are necessary so that voter-verified paper ballots are required, optical scan technology is a biddable option, and elections are conducted openly so as to ensure full confidence of the public in our election system.

Please explore this site and learn about the issues.
Last modified: Sat Apr 22 13:47:47 EDT 2006 email to webmaster: Alice Fischer