14 November 2007

East Haven: The Fiasco Continues

Chairman Healy and I were on the ground in East Haven this morning as the East Haven recanvass fiasco continued. For the first time that we've seen or heard about, the Secretary of State had staff on the ground, mostly because they were able to catch a ride down with the boss herself. Susan B. mugged in front of the television cameras and generally attempted to appear in control of the situation enough so that people will vote for her when she runs for Attorney General in three years. Regardless of the Secretary's efforts, the problems with the recanvass are three-fold: the hand count, the antiquated law, and the lazy logic that created this process.

The Hand Count
People stopped running foot races against cars a long time ago, and with good reason. The machine has better stamina than the man, it has the capacity to go faster than the man, and it takes less to care for a machine than it does a man. The same is true for counting ballots. Though the counters are good people, working hard at a difficult task, it is quite certain that hidden amongst hours of counting ballots are human errors. You can eliminate the human error by setting up a common sense process for a human review of every ballot by several people, and then feeding the machine. Its not rocket science, but it does make sense.

The Law Left Behind
State law says that two party observers are allowed to observe the recount. In the good old days of lever machines, this meant going to the back of the machine, looking at the dials, and then going home. In a Florida-style hand recount situation, it means two people wandering amongst multiple counting stations, hoping that they catch mistakes. It is a foolish arrangement that should have been fixed when the machines were changed. The Secretary of the State dropped the ball on this.

The result is a completely ridiculous situation that played out this morning in East Haven - with a second recanvass and a third attempt at figuring out who won the race for Mayor of East Haven. Until this story gets out and more people realize what is going on, recounts will continue to return inaccurate results, the candidates involved will continue to struggle against the painstaking system, and the taxpayers of Connecticut will continue to get hosed.