The University of Connecticut’s Center for Voting Technology Research (VoTeR Center) is working to keep state elections fair and fraud free, a topic recently brought to light by Secretary of State Denise Merrill in a statement released Friday. “(On Oct. 26th), along with representatives from the state’s information technology and public safety departments, I met with regional officials from the United States Department of Homeland Security to discuss how we can work together to ensure that Connecticut elections are safe from outside interference or manipulation,” Merrill said. The center aids this mission by advising state agencies in the use of electronic voting equipment and investigating voting solutions, according to its website. “We’ve been in existence since 2006 and we’ve been working with the Secretary of the State’s Office since then,” said Dr. Alexander Schwarzmann, professor and head of the UConn computer science and engineering department. “Our work was motivated by the nationwide change in the way that elections are conducted with the help of technology.”
The center was developed as a result of the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) according to Schwarzmann. The act was a response to the inaccuracies in voting technology found in the 2000 election, specifically regarding events in the state of Florida.
“Political issues aside, there was a problem in Florida, and it had to do with imperfect and outright bad technology used in the elections, in particular the use of punch cards,” Schwarzmann said. “After the first recount, it was pointless to do recounts because the ballots were tampered with because of mishandling.”
Schwarzmann said that while the incident built public distrust for the paper system, states were too eager to implement newer electronic voting technology.