Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lee Whitnum update

Via Gabe at CTLP, the Greenwich Time asserts that there are problems with some signatures collected by Lee Whitnum (pictured above in 1999 with John Kerry):
In Greenwich, Gail Mills, the assistant Democratic registrar, said only 12 of the 58 names submitted by Whitnum were valid.

"Either they're not registered at all or not registered in the Democratic party," Mills said. "Many signed it that weren't even registered."

Whitnum said the Greenwich signatures were collected by one of her volunteers.

"We definitely screened everyone, asking if they were a registered Democrat," Whitnum said. "That's discouraging about the Greenwich people."
On a positive note, it's really nice to see someone actually taking the time to verify signatures collected in a petition drive. I'm still waiting for answers to my inquiries about the signatures that Joe Lieberman collected for his independent run for Senate back in 2006. Nobody seemed to own up to actually verifying the signatures, or addressed my questions about allegations that some of Lieberman's signatures were collected at one or both of the Indian casinos, which is an automatic disqualification of all those signatures and a criminal case of fraud by the people submitting them. Oh well, whatever.

At least, I am glad to see such immediate and thorough verification being performed.


Anonymous said...

I actually spent a fair amount of time checking on the signature verification effort in 2006, and the Registrars did a good and thorough job of it, with a 10-15% bounce rate. Where the process fell apart was in verifying that the person who collected the petitions was the person who claimed credit for them in the affidavit on the back of the sheet, as it was well-known at the time that Lieberman used out-of-state petition gatherers to get his numbers. While that's illegal, it's not enforced or checked in either the Secretary of State's office or at the registrars (or in some cases, town clerks) who reviewed the names themselves.

(The CFL party formation document was also filled out incorrectly, which could have got him bounced off the ballot entirely if the SOTS office was motivated to do so. But that's a different story.)

Why Lee had a much higher failure rate in Greenwich is because only registered Dems can sign for her, while if you petition onto the general election ballot, you can get signatures from any registered voter.

CT Bob said...

I always suspected there were irregularities involved in Joe's petition drive. But I also was aware of a certain amount of foot-dragging by many in the state who shared Bill Clinton's opinion that "no matter who wins in Connecticut, we get a Democrat". Getting someone to do their job when they're not motivated is tough enough in real life, let alone in government!

I figured the problem for Lee was the requirement that the signer be a registered Democrat, not just a registered voter.

If Lee was smarter, she would have dropped this silly primary bid and gone on as an independent candidate. For someone like her, she might actually generate more support that way. And getting on the ballot in November would probably be easier for her, what with the much longer time frame to gather sigs.

Bob Symmes said...

I've had a lot of experience with the petition process -- we are now running under the HAVA guidelines, which stress "voter intent" (without explaining what THAT is.)

As a result, minor problems with petitions (which would have caused disqualification in the past) are now intentionally overlooked, to avoid entanglement in HAVA.

CT Bob said...

Ah, that's interesting. I'm sure that has some effect on the petitioning process, especially verification.

It would probably be a good idea if they actually codified what "voter intent" is and what's acceptable or not, rather than leave too much interpretation to the worker.

Bob Symmes said...

I agree -- not only w/petitions, but even more importantly, with recounts. I've been through a couple since the new machines, and this is one potential area for nightmares.

Secretary of State, at the very least, should make "Voter Intent" easier to understand.

Dempsey Dem said...

You got a bunch of things going on here....
First, Whitnum may be falling short. With Greenwich only reporting 12 verified names, we have Darien with 20, Stamford with 191, Westport with 60, Norwalk with 346, Fairfield with 464, New Canaan with 18. Wilton, after checking with the SOTS, rejected all pages submitted, since they were delivered after the deadline, and ridgefield didn't receive any signatures. That leaves the two big question marks; Bridgeport and Trumbull, and half a dozen small towns.
These numbers are totally unoficial, and based on several phone calls. We won't know til next week if she reaches the almost 2500 signatures needed

Your other point of discussion is 'voter intent'. Rather than try to codify voter intent which may be as obvious as circling a candidates name rather than filling in the little circle, or as complicated as crossing off one name and marking another, or an undefinable marking. To deal with this, election officials work in pairs trying to discern voter intent, and if they can't agree, it goes to the moderator to determine if any intent can be discerned. If not, the ballot is rejected and put aside in case of recounts or court challenges. It is a case by case situation and set standards would never encompass the possibillities (We had one voter who used stick on smiley faces to be cute, but the ballot was rejected because anyone could have moved the srickies).

CT Bob said...

Thanks for the info, DD!

I think we should lobby for nothing BUT smiley face stickies for our ballots! It would be nice to feel good about voting for a change. LOL!