ctnewsjunkie file photo
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill (ctnewsjunkie file photo)

HARTFORD, CT – Connecticut’s top election official said the chaos occurring with the counting of votes in the Democratic presidential caucus in Iowa could not happen here because this state’s elections are conducted by independent staff, rather than political parties.

“The Iowa Caucus is an excellent reminder of why important elections should be run by trained, skilled and experienced state and local election administrators, not political parties,” said Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

“In Connecticut, voters can have confidence in our elections because we have primaries and general elections that respect the secret ballot, only use paper ballots that undergo a rigorous post-election audit, and are run by election professionals at the state and local level,” Merrill said.

In Iowa, the state Democratic Party said Tuesday that a new app, meant to speed up the reporting of caucus results, had a “coding issue” that instead led to a significant delay in counting and reporting results Monday evening.

The error, which caused accurately collected data to be only partially reported, pushed the Democratic Party, which is in charge of counting ballots in the Democratic presidential caucus, to resort to manual backups.

“As part of our investigation, we determined with certainty that the underlying data collected via the app was sound,” Iowa Democratic Party chairman Troy Price said in a statement. “While the app was recording data accurately, it was reporting out only partial data.”

Price also said that the party has been able to verify the vote counts through “required paper documentation.”

Merrill said Connecticut’s continued use of paper ballot systems ensures that the state will not have Iowa-type problems in counting election results, though she did concede it does take a little more time to do ballot counting the old-fashioned way.

Although there has been no hint of any cybersecurity issues with the problems in Iowa ballot counting, Merrill said it is still smarter to take the better safe than sorry approach when it comes to making sure each vote is counted correctly.

“Although it may take a little longer to report results, Connecticut’s reliance on paper is our best defense against threats to our cybersecurity,” Merrill said.

“Last week, I met with the federal Department of Homeland Security’s head of cybersecurity to discuss protecting the integrity of Connecticut’s 2020 election from all threats, foreign and domestic, and my office is in constant contact with federal, state, and local officials to ensure that Connecticut’s elections remain free, fair and safe from interference,” Merrill said. “Connecticut’s voters should be confident that they can trust the results of our elections.”

Back in Iowa, some precinct captains and caucus organizers also expressed doubt about the app in the days leading up to the caucuses, according to multiple media reports.

Connecticut election result counting hasn’t exactly been trouble-free the past few elections, as various issues from high voter turnout to inclement weather have caused problems at various polling locations, particularly in some of the state’s bigger cities.

New Haven, in particular, has been a trouble spot in recent election cycles, as same-day registration has created long lines of people waiting to vote.

Merrill has noted, in the past, that her office has no legal authority over locally elected Registrars of Voters — that all she and her staff can do is advise cities to make sure the election offices are adequately staffed on election days.

The issue worsens during elections of high interest, where voter turnout is high, such as a presidential and gubernatorial contest.