Why Reading The Law Is Important!

Newsday reported today that Connecticut officials reviewed their state election code and discovered that, in fact, there is no requirement that requires a voting machine to show a full-face ballot. According to the article:

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said there is nothing in state statutes or regulations that require a voting machine to show a full ballot on the screen.

“It has never appeared in our law,” he said. “There’s no provision in the statutes or regulations that a full-faced ballot be part of voting machines.”

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said her office started to wonder about the requirement after so few voting machine companies could produce a machine that could show voters the entire election ballot, as well as meet other requirements. Fifty companies initially attended a bidding conference to learn more about the state’s needs. Seven applied and three finally came forward. In the end, none met the final specifications.

Bysiewicz said some of the voting machine vendors asked her office where the full-faced ballot requirement appeared in the state statutes. She said her office had always believed that the requirement existed since the 1930s. “We had, in our office, the precedence of interpreting the statutes that were passed back in the 1930s and we had been asked over the past seven decades about it and our interpretation has always been the same,” she said.

Having spent the last month reading state election codes for the EAC’s vote count and recount project, I can say that the problem in Connecticut is easy to understand. In many states, election laws are very complex, combining statutes dating back 100 years with modern statutes and this blending makes for very difficult interpretations and complex readings of multiple provisions in order to make an interpretation.