As polling closed on Tuesday, no information on voting in any city was publicly available as the Secretary of State’s results reporting website was down.
âThey’ve been working all night to figure out what the problem is,â Secretary of State Denise Merrill said.
Merrill says the data was entered locally, but never appeared on the public website.
âWe have the data. It is safe and secure and has been downloaded but could not be viewed, âsays Merrill.
The results reporting website was restored on Wednesday afternoon, but that did not help voters trying to find information on Tuesday evening.
âIt’s almost a courtesy that we do at the state level to display the results sent to us by the cities,â says Merrill.
Quinnipiac University journalism professor Rich Hanley says this information is essential.
âThe state needs to step in here because newspapers can no longer afford to play that referee or tabulator role on election night,â Hanley said.
The Associated Press sends people to all state polling stations in certain election years, but not this year. This meant that the media were in some cases forced to rely on information provided by candidates or parties.
“An institution like state government must step in and make these results available as soon as possible, not as a courtesy but as an imperative to protect democracy,” Hanley said.
What happens when there is a lack of information?
âIn the gap between the publication of election results or the non-availability of conspiracy theories, rumors and innuendos can enter and distort confidence in the system,â Hanley said.
The results were previously unofficially compiled by reporters, but there are not enough reporters these days to cover the entire state.
âSpeed ââis essential in the news industry and now we don’t have anyone to do it due to newspaper closures, layoffs etc. Hanley says.
Merrill says the website was not hacked.
âWe’re offering some kind of bulletin board function so that the idea that it can be hacked doesn’t even make sense, because all the data is still at the local level,â says Merrill.
She says that is not part of the role of the state.
âThe state does not certify local elections. This is all done locally, so the only thing missing here is the ability of the audience to see what is typed. You can still get it in your local town, âshe says.
But that’s not good enough for Hanley.
âIn the 21st century, the state should have the ability to retrieve and display election results minutes or even hours after the polls close, and direct people to this website, not out of courtesy but as part of their job, âHanley said.