Sunday, November 07, 2010

Oh, Susan!

It's one thing to make a mistake.

Hell, everyone makes a mistake once in a while.

It's quite another thing to make mistake after mistake after mistake when dealing with the first mistake!

What can we learn from this?

Here's a short list of my suggestions, and feel free to add to them in the comments:

1) Make people take responsibility for their mistakes. If the Bpt. registrars walk away from this debacle with nothing more than a slap on the wrist, this will destroy voter's confidence in the system. You don't have to fire them; maybe transfer them to another municipal job that doesn't affect voting. I hear they can use some help in the Sanitation Dept.

2) Get the math right the FIRST TIME! We have all sorts of modern conveniences that make it easy to double- and triple- and quadruple-check the numbers before releasing them. If you make simple math errors, then that indicates either there's a problem with your procedures, or you're not following them.

3) Learn from your mistakes, and pass meaningful legislation to prevent these things from happening in the future. If that means making it law to have enough ballots for 100% of the voters, then do it. How much does it cost to defend lawsuits and perform recounts?

4) Don't skip the big press conference where you announce the "final" results after three days of pure chaos because you had a previous engagement scheduled. It gives the appearance that your priorities are severely out of whack.

These are rookie mistakes. Ones you wouldn't expect a long-time Secretary of State to make.

Susan isn't necessarily responsible for Bridgeport running out of ballots. Although it seems a no-brainer to require towns to order AT LEAST as many ballots as would be needed to cover the percentage of registered voters who voted in the least-attended election, which since before 1998 (the earliest year the SoS website has archives) would have exceeded the 21,000 ballots they ordered this year.

So, unless people stayed home in droves, they were going to run out even BEFORE President Obama visited Bridgeport.

This was entirely foreseeable and preventable. From what I've seen so far, there's no policy in place to resupply municipalities with ballots when they run out. I sort of thought that's the kind of thing the Secretary of State's "Election Day Rapid Response Teams" were there for.

But, I guess not.


West Haven Bob said...

Here is my list...and it's a REAL short list:

1)< Relieve the Registrars in every town of the oversight of the election. Each town has a Head Moderator who currently is legally responsible for reporting the accurate returns of the election, yet has no say on how that election is performed. The Head Moderator should oversee all of the issues during the election, from start to finish; and should be subject to substantial fines and/or jail penalties for failure to perform this oversight. The Registrars' duties during voting should be limited to exactly what they do the rest of the year: determining a voter's right to vote.

CT Bob said...

I tend to agree.

(full disclosure: WH Bob was a moderator in the West Haven election)

West Haven Bob said...

Thanks for correcting my inadvertent ommission. I should add that this was my last election as a moderator; but this is a subject I (and many other Moderators from both parties) have worked on.