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Tony Hwang for CT - Election Law Changes Affect Vote Integrity

Tony Hwang for CT - Election Law Changes Affect Vote Integrity

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Published by: Jordan Fenster on Apr 23, 2012
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04/23/2012

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Proposed Election Laws Changes Falls Short on Maintaining Vote Integrity By State Representative Tony Hwang 
Proposed Election Laws Changes Falls Short onMaintaining Vote Integrity
By State Representative Tony Hwang 
The Connecticut General Assembly has taken a significant step toward looseningElection laws in this state. Along the way the legislative majority compromised theintegrity of our votes, and the soundness of our political foundation.The State House of Representatives voted 97-50 in favor of an amendment to theConnecticut Constitution in House Joint Resolution 2, which would permit
“no excuse”
absentee ballots to be cast and also throws wide open the door for much broaderchanges such as allowing votes to be cast with a three to fourteen day period instead ofhaving a designated Election Day and unsupervised online remote voting. Thesepotential changes to the election process are fraught with unforeseen fraud risks andlogistical challenges to our communities.These proposed changes present a number of challenges to implement. I believe theyalso fail to address and prevent the potential for voter fraud. The ability for individuals tocast votes in elections without adequate safeguards creates the potential for voter fraudthat is difficult to detect until an election is over.The proponents of HJ 2 argue that such changes are needed to increase voter turnout.However, Doug Chapin, Director of Excellence in Election Administration, HumphreySchool of Public Affairs at University of Minnesota addressed the Secretary of the StateElections Performance Task force on increased voter turnout by stating that,
“It is like trying to drive a screw with a hammer… Implementing vote by mail, vote
centers, or the like, thinking it will have some sort of impact on turn-out is misguided, it might, but likely will not.. You can have little to no impact on your turn-out bottom line with election laws. Turn- 
out tends to be driven by what’s on the ballot rather than when,where and how it is available.” 
 
1
 
Another area of election law impacting the sanctity of voting integrity is Election DayRegistration (EDR), which is in a section of HB 5024, which will allow voters to registerand vote on Election Day. EDR offers no protection or validation against last-minutefraudulent registration, double voting, or votes in the name of people who have died ormoved. In the Government Administration and Election Committee, I joined myRepublican colleagues in offering a number of amendments aimed at correcting this.One amendment would require that photo identification (ID) be presented by anyone
 
 
Proposed Election Laws Changes Falls Short on Maintaining Vote Integrity By State Representative Tony Hwang 
 
Page | 2
 
attempting to register and vote and make provisions for those who do not have one.This amendment was defeated by Democrats who claimed many seniors and minoritiesdo not have or use photo ID
s and would be disenfranchised. The realdisenfranchisement occurs when we implement a system that voters can no longertrust. The voting process should be free of the kinds of influences and trickery that wesee in other countries but hope to avoid in our own! Our amendments were rejectedalong partisan party line vote, without consideration that photo identification has beenaccepted and implemented by nearly 30 states while only 8 states currently have EDR.I have seen no evidence to suggest that voter turnout or the fairness of elections willsomehow be enhanced by providing EDR. However, the failure to require someone toverify their identity, with a photo ID before they cast a vote, will cast a shadow over theintegrity of our elections. When I think of all the other things that require a photo ID,such as credit card and alcohol purchases
, I think it’s a small thing to ask for 
beforecasting an election vote to determine our democratic future.Implementing such a change also places a significant unfunded financial mandate andlogistical nightmare on municipalities. The burden of providing the ability to facilitatesame-day registration and voting would fall on the part-time local registrars of voters.This is at the expense of local budgets which are already strained. If you want to knowwhat could happen to the reputation of a m
unicipality that can’t manage to live up to the
requirements of the unfunded state mandate during an election, look to Bridgeport in
2010. It’s fundamentally unfair to
require towns to do this without providing financialresources to alleviate the unforeseen costs. We are asking for electoral disasters tounfold in these municipalities.Perhaps I have a different view on the importance of having elections conducted withintegrity and reasonable assurance of fairness and exclusion of fraud or manipulation.My parents left China as teenagers to escape the tyranny of Communism. I was born inTaiwan under martial law, and I can tell you that nothing gives you a greaterappreciation of the value of liberty and freedom than to live in a nation whose peoplehave neither. I treasure the opportunities this country offers and the sanctity of ourliberties and freedoms. These should be guaranteed by the power and truth of ourvotes on Election Day.It is a right represented by the sacrifices of our forefathers and current soldiers aroundthe world. It is one I believe, should not be invalidated by fraud or a weakness in oursystem. This right should definitely not be weakened for the ease and convenience of
our current “have it
y
our way” culture
of immediate gratification. Voting is a privilegeand right that deserves responsibility and accountability.For us to guarantee the true blessings of elected democracy, I do not believe it is toomuch to ask that voters show up on Election Day to cast their ballots, or make properprovision and validation for an absentee ballot. I do not think it is too much to ask of ourcitizens to register ahead of Election Day and to ensure that one person gets one vote.This is part of the foundation and fabric of this country
s representative government.

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