Despite some opening-night hiccups, the Secretary of the State’s office is hoping municipal election officials will embrace an instantaneous, public, digital returns reporting system in time for November. The new program, which is intended to replace a laborious and outdated system of paperwork and faxes, is entirely web-based and would allow for immediate public access to real-time election results. The Secretary of the State’s office did a trial run of the new system on primary night with a handful of towns including Wilton, New Britain, Manchester, Stamford, Simsbury, and Danbury. The new system allows moderators at individual polling locations — or anywhere with Internet access — to log in and post results as soon as they have them. Townwide moderators will have more administrative privileges within the system, but it is designed to make results available to the public as soon as individual moderators post them, according to Av Harris, spokesman for the Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.
Staffers at the SOTS’s office remained optimistic Tuesday night that the change can be implemented statewide. That said, on Wednesday Merrill said many registrars still faxed results to her office on Tuesday, adding, “We still have people hand deliver them.” As of Thursday, she still hadn’t heard any feedback on the new system from the communities that took part in the test, but she expected to talk to local officials soon. “I don’t have any hope of convincing all the registrars, but quick results mean more public confidence in our election system,” Merrill said. “And the way we wrote the program means there will be fewer errors.”
Merrill said the statute allows registrars to deliver results by 6 p.m. the following day, but despite the relative autonomy of each municipal registrar of voters, she added that the statute says the Secretary of the State can decide how results are delivered. “All I can do is keep hammering on it,” Merrill said. “At some point, we’ll unplug the fax machines and call the question. At least that might get them to use email.” Merrill added that communication is key.