Secretary of the State Calls Election Day "Rigging" Highly Improbable | Connecticut Public Radio

Secretary of the State Calls Election Day "Rigging" Highly Improbable

Nov 7, 2016

There's been a lot of talk about rigged elections, and state officials have dismissed it. But while Connecticut’s recent Election Day problems haven’t been about corruption, they have been about incompetence. 

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill oversees and advises the state on elections. And while she’s heard the concerns about “rigged” votes, she doesn’t think they’re based in reality.

"I would call it highly improbable at best," Merrill said. "And that’s because, like Connecticut, every other state is highly decentralized."

Which is to say that any conspiracy would have to be a big conspiracy -- involving hundreds of officials across the state, working together to alter people’s votes.

But Merrill said that even if there were such a conspiracy, enacting it would be pretty hard to do. Sure, our ballots are scanned by computers, and those could be tampered with.

"But of course, that means you’d have to have the time and the wherewithal and the access to these machines, and it would have to be on a machine by machine basis," Merrill said.

While rigging doesn’t seem likely, mess-ups could be. A few years back, Bridgeport didn’t print enough ballots.

Then there’s what happened in Hartford two years ago.

"At my polling place, they did not get the list to the polling place in time," Merill said. "They were in somebody’s back seat of his car, and he just didn’t think it was that important, I guess. But it resulted in people being turned away from the polls. So, we had to keep the polls open longer, went to court."

Merrill said it was a bit of a wake-up call. There needs to be competence.

"If there had been competence, you know, in the implementation of the law, it would not have happened," she said. "So we’ve done some things to cure that. It could still be a problem. I mean, there’s 169 towns, two registrars, and one town clerk in each town -- all of them, you know, trying to administer the law as properly as they can."

Merrill has been working to train registrars over the past couple of years. But Election Day is the test.