Wednesday, February 20, 2008

CT vote in national election at risk

In yesterday's New Britain Herald, Rick Guiness reported on a major problem with the state's new Centralized Voter Registration System.

It seems like important news, and kudos to Guiness for reporting it, but why isn't anyone else concerned?

On February 15th, 2007 in testimony before the state legislature's budget appropriations committee, Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz was bragging about the creation of the Centralized Voter Registration System:

The 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) also mandated that each state have a central voter registration system in place by 2004. Connecticut was a national leader in establishing a voter registration system that protects the rights of voters and also guards against potential voter fraud. This new statewide system, known as Centralized Voter Registration (CVR), was established to protect the sanctity of every vote and to assure citizens that the precious right to vote is not compromised by fraud. I led the way in developing our CVR in 2003, in compliance with Connecticut 2003 state law and a year ahead of the HAVA deadline. Again, I must commend the local election officials and municipal leaders for their assistance in meeting this federal mandate.

A year later Bysiewicz has sent a somewhat panicked letter to the governor to solicit funds to fix the system after several crashes in the days before the recent primary:

The problem, Bysiewicz says in the two-page letter, was that the Centralized Voter Registration System “crashed several times on the day before the primary, and has not yet been completely restored.”

Bysiewicz says her staff has worked with the state Department of Information Technology on the problem “and although numerous explanations were given and several ‘fixes’ attempted, we do not believe that issues have been addressed in a way that would reassure registrars that they will have what they need in November.”

The system is manufactured by ElectioNet (one of those annoying, mid-word capitalized letter product names), which claims:

With the Election Reform Bill being passed, you need a high-performance voter registration system designed to provide data in real-time and comprehensive support for your election processes. You want the flexibility of a modular, integrated system. The solution you choose must meet these standards. The solution that satisfies these requirements is ElectioNet's™ Centralized Voter Registration System. It is the leading solution for voter registration and election management...


Connecticut replaced their legacy system with ElectioNet™ and became the first installed site for our product to support their two million registered voters in 169 towns for 600+ concurrent users and 718 polling places.

Unfortunately, it crashed. Am I the only one, besides the Secretary of State, who's a little nervous about the reliability of our state's electronic voting and registration systems?

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