Ct. voter database plagued by glitches
Published 7:00 pm, Friday, October 12, 2012
For the second time in two weeks, a "stress test" conducted on Connecticut's centralized voter registration database Wednesday exposed serious glitches in the system.
Election officials said they endured lengthy wait times to print out voter lists or simply to verify who is eligible to cast ballots next month in a host of marquee races, including the presidency.
Some registrars of voters eventually gave up, choosing to try again during off-peak periods.
The Secretary of the State's Office acknowledged it has a problem on its hands and said it will convene a special meeting Thursday with the state's technology team. The agency can least afford any mistakes after a ballot shortage in Bridgeport two years ago cast a dark cloud over the gubernatorial election won by Democrat Dannel P. Malloy over Republican Tom Foley by 6,500 votes.
About 100 of 169 total cities and towns in the state participated in the latest drill, with registrars all logging on at the same time and trying to print out rosters of voters for each polling place in their municipality.
A similar stress test was performed Sept. 26, with what registrars described as abominable results that cast doubts about whether the system can handle the rigors of the upcoming election.
"So the portion of the program that produced poll books slowed to a crawl," said Fred DeCaro III, Greenwich's Republican registrar. "It might normally take less than a minute to generate. And we had times upward of 20 minutes for a single polling place."
Judi Beaudreau, the Democratic registrar in Vernon, encountered similar problems both times.
"I wasn't able to get in until later. Once I did get in, I wasn't able to process for about 10 minutes," said Beaudreau, a former president of the Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut.
The timetable for printing out voter lists, which usually takes place a week before the election, is set by state law. Supplemental lists are printed out the day before the election.
Av Harris, a spokesman for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, who came into office at the start of 2011, explained that the centralized voter database used to be on its own mainframe but was integrated about a year ago into the mainframe used the following state departments and agencies: Motor Vehicles, Social Services, Children and Families, Voter and Business Registration, State Police, Correction, Retirement and several others.
"This needs to work, not only on Election Day, but in preparation for Election Day," Harris said. "We are aware of the fact that there are load capacity issues. The importance that this system works is critical."
Election officials will troubleshoot the problem Thursday morning with representatives of the state Department of Administrative Services Bureau of Enterprise Systems and Technology, which said in an internal memo obtained by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers that it upgraded the mainframe on Sept. 30 to provide 21 percent more capacity.
"This system has been approaching and has been reaching its full capacity over the last several months," Mark Raymond, the state's chief information officer wrote in that memo. "Despite our efforts to manage processing needs, the demand has outpaced the available capacity."
Beaudreau is optimistic the kinks will get worked out.
"I don't think that the secretary of the state wants this on her head if it does fail, so you know darn well that it's going to be working well on Election Day," she said.
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