Connecticut's election was a shame. But if we are to judge a state's election a shame, then surely we should also evaluate the federal legislation that was created specifically to keep such an election from ever happening -- the Help America Vote Act. Crafted in 2002 in the wake of perceived voting irregularities in Florida, HAVA was sponsored by Sen. Chris Dodd (yes, of CT) and intended to provide funding to each state to improve voter access and information, technology and procedures. In 2004 under the provisions of HAVA, CT received $32 million of the $3.9 billion total. Yet after American taxpayers spent millions funding CT's enhanced voter registries, poll workers in Bridgeport were not even informed enough to have an adequate number of ballots on hand. Under HAVA, Secretary of State Susan Bysewicz allowed poll workers to distribute photocopied ballots, eschewing the high-tech machines the Act funded and insisting ballots would be hand-counted. Then, a judge -- apparently thinking it would "Help America Vote" by ordering Bridgeport polls to remain open two hours beyond official closing time -- stepped in and did just that. Under HAVA, a bag of ballots was left to sit in a polling station in CT and was, for a time, uncounted. Under HAVA's enhancements and safeguards it is permissible for the general public, including inhabitants of CT's so-called "Sanctuary Cities," to vote after presenting mere municipal I.D. cards, utilities bills, signed affidavits or a variety of other forms of ID which do not necessarily require the bearer is a U.S. citizen. Evidently, in HAVA-world, the voting machines get more scrutiny than the voters themselves. True, CT's election was a big shame, but Senator "Countrywide" Chris Dodd's four billion dollar boondoggle HAVA is a bigger one and it's a national one. American taxpayers sold on the idea of reforming the voting process in America made a serious investment in the Help America Vote Act ten years ago. Then -- over the course of just ten years -- many of the same taxpayers took their collective eyes off the cost of the endeavor, treating the investment as casually as they would a handful of change in the coin cup of the car, or . . . voting.
After the debacle in CT, one can only wonder if America is ready for HAVA Part 2 -- you know, the voting reform bill that will surely fix everything the previous one didn't.
Dmitri Rutkowski is a writer living in Connecticut