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Connecticut To Use Paper Ballot Voting System PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
August 04, 2006

Secretary of State's Decision To Buy Diebold AccuVote Puts Connecticut's Mandatory Audit Provision In Question 


An Associated Press article is reporting that Connecticut will be replacing its lever machines this November with a Diebold AccuVote Optical Scanners. The state will meet the federal requirements for disabled accessibility with the Inspire Vote-By-Phone system provided by IVS of Louisville, KY. The IVS system will also be used in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Oregon, Oklahoma, and individual jurisdictions in other states.

Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz announced today that she has entered into a $15 million contract with LHS Associates of Methuen, Mass. At the announcement on Friday, Bysiewicz studiously avoided naming Diebold, LHS supplies only Diebold equipment so it is clear that Diebold’s equipment will be used. Just a week ago the Secretary of State had declined to give any details of the technology being conidered, telling the New Britain Herald "I'd love to tell you about the technology, but we're still sorting out the details." Bysiewicz also noted that local registrars of voters will have the choice of using the machines in the November election or the 2007 election.

Bysiewicz said her office decided against purchasing touch screen voting machines after hearing concerns from thousands of citizens, academics and advocacy groups about problems with the devices. "Touch-screen technology, in its current state of development, is simply not ready for 'prime time' here in Connecticut," she said.


Election activist were quick to notice that the choice of a paper ballot optical scan voting system was not anticipated when the state's election reform legislation S.B.55; Public Act 05-188; was signed into law on July 1, 2005. The law required that "not later than five business days after each election in which a direct recording electronic voting machine is used, the registrars of voters or their designees, representing at least two political parties, shall conduct a manual audit of the votes recorded on at least two direct recording electronic voting machines used in each assembly district." Optical scanners, of course, are not direct recording electronic voting machines. The possibility of a special session of the state legislature may offer the opportunity to address the audit issue. Otherwise it may have to wait until January.

Chaos in Connecticut PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA   
January 19, 2006
State Back To Square One But this Time They Have Technology Board's Recommendations For Guidance

Just what’s going on in Connecticut?

Last week, Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz announced that that the machines the state was intending to use in this year’s election are not qualified to the federal standards that Connecticut requires. The Attorney General is investigating the possibility of suing the vendor, Connecticut-based Danaher Corporation, and in the meantime the state has announced its intention to use its ancient lever machines for this year’s elections while they start the entire procurement process over again.

So here we are, back at square one - just months before the primary elections.

The state had experienced difficulty in finding a vendor who could satisfy both the state’s requirement for a full-face ballot and Bysiewicz dogged determination to purchase direct record electronic machines. And then there was that new state law requiring a voter verified paper record of every vote that Bysiewicz had fought relentlessly – well, until it became clear that the proposal was headed for unanimous approval in the state legislature.

(Of course, as TrueVoteCT has pointed out relentlessly, a paper ballot optical scan system would easily meet all these requirements and cost a lot less too but until last November, she wouldn’t even allow townships to consider a paper based system.)

State officials maintain that a letter from the Department of Justice assured them that the Department would overlook the fact that Connecticut had already accepted federal funds earmarked for machine upgrades, with the stipulation that the new systems had to be in place in time for the 2006 elections.

The letter actually said nothing of the sort.

Rather, it stated in no uncertain terms that lever machines do not meet the accuracy, auditability, or accessibility requirements of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) – in spite of the states concerted effort to argue that they do. The letter points out sternly that Connecticut is in receipt of $33,076,849 in federal funds that were intended to be used to achieve compliance with the federal requirements that lever machines, in the opinion of the Department of Justice, do not meet. Department of Justice spokesman Eric Holland told the Connecticut Post that  "Section 401 under HAVA permits us to bring a suit to the U.S. District Court to enforce compliance." Last week, the Department of Justice threatened the State of New York for noncompliance with the HAVA deadline.

But wait – that’s not all!
Connecticut State Officials Attempt To Change the Subject PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy   
January 11, 2006
Is the issue Federal Qualification or Federal Funding? Letter from the Department of Justice  reveals more than state officials choose to mention

According to an article in the Connecticut Post, State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is exploring whether a Danaher Controls broke the law when it offered a failed bid to provide Connecticut federally qualified voting machines. Blumenthal's investigation appears to be directed toward pinning the blame for the state's failure to comply with the terms of the federal law on the vendor. "We're actively exploring possible action to recoup damages to state taxpayers," Blumenthal said. "We need to investigate further what was told the secretary of the state's office — when, exactly, statements were made by the company and how grave the impact will be, both short- and long-term."

Blumenthal's statement follows on the announcement last week by Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz that the state had dropped the company after learning its machines were not certified for use in national elections. The Connecticut Post article reported that Bysiewicz said on Tuesday that Danaher had made misleading statements on written communications submitted to her office, as it sought the state contract and did not disclose that its machines lacked federal certification until Dec. 21, after all of the bidders demonstrated their offerings statewide and the state chose Danaher for the contract. "Contrary to their written representations, they had no federal certification and hadn't even applied for federal certification," said Bysiewicz.

Updated lists of qualified voting systems are published on the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) website regularly, and the status of pending applications for qualification can be ascertained by a phone call to the ITA Secretariat. Apparently, it did not occur to the Secreatary of State's office to confirm Danaher's claims of imminent certification. In fact, VoteTrustUSA learned through such a phone call that Danaher still has not even initiated the qualification process for the machines that Connecticut was planning to purchase. Connecticut requires NASED qualification before a voting system can be certified for use in the state.

This inattention on the part of state election officials and alleged misrepresentation by Danaher has resulted in missing the January 1 deadline to upgrade voting systems to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in time for this November's elections. The state has received over $33 million in federal funds, contingent on meeting that deadline. The Secretary of State has announced that a new procurement process would be initiated, but that for the 2006 election cycle the state would continue to use lever machines. Despite official assurances to the contrary, it remains to be seen if the state will be penalized for failure to meet the HAVA deadline.
Connecticut Dumps Danaher - No Electronic Machines (For Now At Least) PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA   
January 04, 2006
In a significant victory for citizen activists and voters in Connecticut, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz announced Wednesday that she has halted the procurement process for voting systems, at least temporarily. The decision means that rather than purchasing electronic voting machines, the state will use mechanical lever machines in November's elections.

In an Associated Press article, Ms. Byciewicz said the finalist in the bid process, Danaher Controls, misled the state and had not yet sought proper certification to meet state and federal requirements. Bysiewicz's office made the discovery during final negotiations with the company. "Unfortunately we were unable to find qualified vendors," she said, adding that no company could provide a certified electronic machine that displays a voter's entire ballot and provides a paper receipt that he or she can verify."

This development comes after a year long effort by the election integrity organization, TrueVoteCT, along with Common Cause, Verified Voting and other national organizations to promote accurate and verifiable election in the state. Last Spring, in the face of determined resistance from Bysiewicz and U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut legislature unanimously passed legislation requiring a voter verified paper record of every vote and establishing a random mandatory audit of vote totals. Since passage of the bill TrueVoteCT has challenged the state's RFP for procurement of voting systems, arguing that it was written to preclude the use of optical scan technology.

"I commend the secretary for doing the right thing and throwing the process open rather than acquiring an inferior machine for the state, which all the indications up until now were that that was going happen," said Michael Fischer, a computer science professor at Yale and member of TrueVoteCT.
Connecticut: Extend HAVA Deadline PDF  | Print |  Email
By The Hartford Courant   
December 13, 2005
This editorial appeared in The Hartford Courant on December 13, 2005
Reasonable people are raising reasonable questions about the requirements of the federal Help America Vote Act; also, about which technology - computerized voting machines or optical scanners - would best serve voters.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz says Connecticut has to meet a Jan. 1 federal deadline for complying with HAVA's mandate or risk enforcement by the Justice Department.

Yet it's not clear whether the state has to replace one old-fashioned lever machine in each polling place (769 machines statewide) or all 3,300. Or whether the three models of computerized voting machines under consideration by the secretary of the state's office are even the best technologies.

That's no way to spend public money.
Connecticut: Secretary Of The State Will Give Towns Optical Scan Option For Balloting PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Voket, The Newtown Bee   
December 08, 2005
Reprinted from The Newtown Bee.

In an exclusive interview Wednesday, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz told The Bee she plans to give all Connecticut communities the opportunity to use federal funds to purchase optical scanning technology to use in polling places.

During this latest conversation related to electronic voting technology conducted with the secretary of the state and members of her staff, Ms Bysiewicz initially responded to a request issued by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), which is chaired by Newtown First Selectman Herb Rosenthal.

In the November memo, the CCM initially requested that the secretary of the state's office exercise its "right to cancel, amend, modify, or otherwise change," its request for proposals for direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines. The correspondence goes on to cite significant cost savings and other advantages local municipalities could enjoy, if they were given an opportunity to purchase optical scanning voting machines equipped with technology developed by Automark Technical Systems.
Connecticut: Group of professors in battle with state over voting machines PDF  | Print |  Email
By Associated Press   
December 08, 2005
Reprinted from The Hartford Courant.

HARTFORD, Conn. -- A group of Connecticut academics is urging the state's top election official to scrap the bidding for new electronic voting machines, saying she favors models that could be prone to glitches.

The group wants Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz to consider a different device because mistake-prone machines could discourage people from voting.

"You don't have to assume chicanery," said Ralph Morelli, who teaches at Trinity College in Hartford. "If the machine can't be booted up in the morning, nobody gets to vote. If they miscalculate how many voters can be handled on a machine, you're going to have huge lines and people are going to be turned away. Why go through this?"

Morelli and his group, TrueVoteConnecticut, have launched a Web site and a letter-writing campaign that they hope will generate support to restart the bidding process. But Bysiewicz questions their impartiality and said the device they favor doesn't meet state law.
Connecticut Passes Clean Elections! PDF  | Print |  Email
By Jon Bartholomew, Maine Citizen for Clean Elections   
December 02, 2005
Originally posted on Reposted here with permission of the author.

It's a great day for democratic integrity! Lawmakers in CT have passed (and their Governor is expected to sign) a Clean Elections program into law. This package includes a few other reforms beyond public financing, but basically is modeled after our Clean Election law. The most important aspect of this is that it is the first time a state legislature has passed Clean Elections laws that impact themselves. Previously, it has been passed by voter initiative or by a legislature for other offices (like judges in North Carolina). At the city level, Portland Oregon's city council passed it for city council races, and hopefully that will be a taste of things to come.

So for the full details, I am just going to post the e-mail I received from North East Action that also includes a news story from Connecticut.

The sun is shining in Connecticut today! The Democratically-controlled Legislature has just passed, and Republican Governor Jodi Rell is expected to sign, a full public financing law that covers legislative and statewide offices, starting in 2008 and 2010. See the recent Hartford Courant article for details.
Connecticut: Election Integrity Organization Critical of State's Voting Machine RFP PDF  | Print |  Email
By TrueVoteCT   
November 12, 2005
An active exchange has taken place over the past months between the Secretary of State of Connecticut and TrueVoteCT, an election integrity organization in the state. The background is summarized in a recent oped in the Hartford Couran and a series of letters can be viewed at the TrueVoteCT website. The organization recently assembled a report critical of the states RFP for voting technology, the conclusions from which are summarized here. The full report can be downloaded here [PDF].

TrueVoteCT, along with many other computer scientists, local election
officials, voting activists and concerned citizens across the country
have serious reservations about DRE voting machines. DREs are an
immature technology that are expensive to purchase, very costly to run
elections with, very complex and are prone to glitches and errors.
Purchasing DREs at this time is comparable to buying the first PCs to
hit the market. Consumers who purchased these PCs paid top dollar for
inferior technology and replaced them often as the technology improved
and prices came down. This is what the state will be facing if they move
forward with the current plan to purchase DREs. A TrueVoteCT
representative personally spoke to one of the election officials in
Miami-Dade County, the County that has recommended scrapping $24.5
million of DRE voting machines. The Miami-Dade election official said
“any state or municipality that purchases DREs today would have to be
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