If ever there was a time for Bridgeport election officials to say “sure, we’ll do whatever you want with our voting machines,” it’s right now. But no such luck. In the aftermath of the ballot debacle, city officials are now refusing to participate in the biennial audit of voting machines.
If everyone could stop kicking state Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz while she’s down for a moment, we could all realize that she deserves at least a little credit for trying to include the troubled Bridgeport precincts in the annual election audit. Bysiewicz said Monday that Bridgeport would be in the audit along with 74 others across the state. The counting should be done before Nov. 22. The audits will compare the machine counts to hand counts in the races for governor, attorney general, and U.S. Senate.
Bridgeport has, in fact, said “no.” The Connecticut Post’s fine reporter Ken Dixon writes that Deputy City AttorneyArthur C. Laske III said Bridgeport’s two voter registrars never agreed to such an audit and that Bysiewicz does not have the authority to order one. Laske said the local registrars are unprepared to undertake another recount and there is no money for it.
“What’s the legal authority, who agreed to do it and who’s going to pay for it?” Laske asked according to Dixon. “They (state officials) haven’t answered any of those questions.”
“The annual audit of 10 percent of the state’s voting precincts was implemented a few years ago in an effort to determine if the new optical scan voting machines were working properly, but this audit may also offer a peek into what went wrong in Bridgeport on Election Day,” reports Christine Stuart of CTNewsjunkie.com.
The ballot shortage was just part of Bysiewicz’ problems during this election and was a fitting end to a disastrous election cycle for the one-time leader in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor. Bridgeport election officials failed to order enough ballots (approximately 21,000 for 70,000-plus registered voters). When they ran out, chaos ensued. Ballots were photocopied and a judge issued an emergency order to hold the polls open for two extra hours. Relatively few people voted during the extra time.
Bysiewicz, who switched from the governor’s race to the race for attorney general only to have the state Supreme Court rule her ineligible, compounded the election night problems by subsequently declaring Democrat Dan Malloy the winner based on “unofficial results.” She then put the blame for the Bridgeport ballot shortage on the city’s registrars of voters. It might rightly belong there—media interviews showed at least one of the registrars to be completely clueless. But the fact is, the secretary of state is responsible for supervising elections. Hindsight being 20-20, she would have been better off doing a “the buck stops here” news conference and accepting responsibility.
At least Bysiewicz is now due some kudos for trying to get the Bridgeport precincts included in the audit. She could have just pretended Bridgeport seceded to New York and done the usually routine audit quietly. Yes, it’s true that she should have spent less time campaigning (for whatever office) and more time doing her job. Yes, her problems were largely self-inflicted and they have probably precluded her from any credible run for higher office such as the US Senate in 2012. But at least she had the guts to try to revisit the Park City through the audit.