Electronic ballots tally fans, detractors | AspenTimes.com

Electronic ballots tally fans, detractors

John Colson

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

It appears the new electronic voting machines were a hit with area voters in today’s mid-term election ” at least among those who were willing to use them.

“It’s great. It’s cool,” enthused rancher and former U.S. Congressman Mike Strang of Missouri Heights, after he voted on the only machine in use at the Carbondale Town Hall precinct.

He said he found it easier to use than a paper ballot, particularly in that it allowed him to review his votes electronically before pushing the “cast vote” button, and then to see them on paper to make sure it was all correct.

Others, however, were not so positive.

Carbondale resident Brad Hendricks declared, “I won’t go through those self-checkout lines [in grocery stores] and I won’t [use an electronic voting machine]. I want to mark a piece of paper.”

An informal poll of voters leaving the polling places up and down the valley indicated most who picked paper ballots over the electronic machines did so mainly because using paper seemed to go faster.

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As for those who adamantly refuse to go electronic, remarked first-time election judge and former Garfield County Sheriff Verne Soucie, “It’s more fear than anything.” Once voters try the machine, “They really like it,” he said.

In confirmation, Carbondale developer Don Ensign said, “I thought it was great … simple, to the point, quick and it doesn’t cut trees down.”

At the Eagle County Community Center in El Jebel, election judges were urging voters to go electronic, said 25-year veteran judge Vonda Williams, noting predictions that soon the paper ballot will be a thing of the past.

Even with five of the machines in operation, as well as several paper ballot stations, the line at the El Jebel polling site was out the door and almost into the clerk’s office. Some voters were grumbling and leaving, saying they’d come back later.

And some, such as Eagle County resident Wayne Ewing, voted with a paper ballot “as a silent protest” against what some see as technology that is too easily tampered with.

Basalt election judge Donna Linnecke, describing the Hart Intercivic machines in use there, said “our preference is for [voters] to go electronic.”

Linnecke noted two Basalt High School juniors, Jannae Swanson and Megan Southward, were on hand to help out as needed at Basalt Town Hall, the polling place for Basalt area voters.

Similarly, according to Aspen High School teacher Karen Green, a number of students from AHS were distributed among Pitkin County’s polling places to both learn and help out.

In Aspen, election judges at Precinct 1 said the flow of voters moved along smoothly all day and that voters seemed happy with the machines.

“It’s working out really well,” said precinct judge Cindy Christensen, noting that even voters who were skeptical initially ended up voting electronically after learning that the machines all had paper backups to be used in recounts.

“It was easy, and it was fast … and it seemed to work fine,” said Aspen voter Elliot Branson, who voted electronically.

John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com

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