New state voter system struggles

More than 100,000 Connecticut residents have sent in their voter registration forms in the past six weeks, but the state’s new processing system has struggled to keep up with the influx.

The new Connecticut voter registration system, known as CVRS2, was deployed this year under the directive of Gov. Dannel Malloy to save costs and streamline information sharing. But Av Harris, communications director for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, said the new system has faced technical difficulties because of state computer network capacity constraint. Unlike the state’s old registration system, which did not require transmitting voter registration information aross the Internet, the new system sends an enormous amount of data across the state’s network. Officials said the increase in transmitted information has overwhelemed the computer hardware on several instances over the past few weeks.

“The pipeline wasn’t wide enough for the state mainframe to handle,” Harris said. “We’ve been working with the Department of Administrative Services to troubleshoot the capacity issues for a month or so, and we’re also working with registrars to make sure they’ll have what they need come Election Day.”

Harris emphasized that no data had been lost in the process, but registrars had only been slowed down by the clogged network. He added he did not think any of the prior difficulties with adjusting to the new voter registration system would impact the results of Connecticut’s Senate race. If there are any problems on Election Day, the new system allows registrars to drive to the next town to print voter lists, said Mark Raymond, the chief information officer at the Department of Administrative Services’ Bureau of Enterprise Systems Technology.

Raymond added that none of the state’s registrars have reported problems with the new system in over a week.

“There have been daily conference calls with the Secretary of the State’s office and all the registrars throughout the state. Everyone has been given the opportunity to express any outstanding concerns,” Raymond said.

Registrars across the state said they were pleased that the old system was still available when they encountered glitches with CVRS2 because they were able to use the old system as a backup.

Terry Bivona, deputy Republican registrar of voters for Stamford, said “it would be a concern” if the old system was not available as a redundancy precaution, but she noted that far fewer issues related to voting so far this year than during the 2008 presidential election.

“Last time we had a serious problem with ACORN,” Bivona said, referring to the now-defunct advocacy organization. “We had about 300 duplicate voters and fake names attempt to register to vote. A 12-year-old girl registered. We even had someone named ‘Victoria’s Secret’ file paperwork.”

State officials said one of the benefits of the new system is that it allows registrars to track voters statewide with less information. Stamford Deputy Democratic Registrar Angelina Kaether said the new system allows state officials to search a voter by birthdate, which is a “significant improvement” because applications can often be difficult to read.

Connecticut has 169 towns with voter registrars.

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