Decision due on Colorado voting machines |

Decision due on Colorado voting machines

Colleen Slevin
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman says he’ll decide by Friday whether 47 counties can use their optical scanners to count paper ballots in this year’s elections.

Coffman met Tuesday with county officials to discuss the scanners, which were among a host of electronic voting and counting machines he disqualified in December over security and accuracy concerns.

In the aftermath of that decision, Colorado is trying to sort out how it will run the 2008 elections. Legislators are leaning toward paper ballots, but federal law requires that touch-screen machines be available for disabled voters or anyone else who wants one.

Coffman recertified three types of touch-screen voting machines on Monday after imposing some restrictions, but the jury is still out on the scanners.

Scanners could be crucial to smooth elections if the Legislature decides to go with all paper ballots.

County officials want to be able to use their existing scanners to count ballots and avoid a time-consuming hand count or spending scarce money on a different kind of scanner.

Coffman went to Castle Rock, in Douglas County, on Tuesday to discuss whether to recertify the Hart InterCivic optical scanner used by Douglas, Boulder and 45 smaller counties.

Coffman said he is concerned about whether the scanners will read stray marks as votes. Douglas County officials said they check all ballots for stray marks, food stains and other blots before putting them into the scanners.

On Monday, Coffman recertified touch-screen machines equipment made by Sequoia Voting Systems, used in Arapahoe, Denver, Elbert and Pueblo counties, and Election Systems and Software, used in Jefferson and Mesa counties.

Colorado is one of five states considering a return to all-paper elections after having problems changing to electronic systems, according to a report released last week by Electionline, a project of The Pew Center on the States.

The other states are Florida, New Mexico, Ohio, and California, according to the study.

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