Fate of Garfield County’s voting machines may await legislative decision | AspenTimes.com

Fate of Garfield County’s voting machines may await legislative decision

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Garfield County Clerk and Recorder Jean Alberico is hoping a solution for Colorado’s voting machine problems will be addressed when the state Legislature convenes in January.

Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman presented some possible solutions to the voting machine problems last week, according to Alberico, but Colorado lawmakers will probably make the final call about how voters are going to cast their ballots in next year’s presidential election.

The Legislature convenes for the start of its regular session on Jan. 9.

“Until the Legislature goes into session, I don’t know what is going to happen,” Alberico said.

Coffman announced earlier this month that he was decertifying three types of electronic voting machines across the state, based on accuracy and security problems. He required the companies that make the machines to reapply for certification.

One of the machines that had its certification pulled was Hart InterCivic’s eScan, which Garfield County uses to read paper ballots in county elections. Coffman also pulled certification of the company’s Ballot Now system, which is a ballot printing and counting machine the county has purchased but not used in an election.

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The company’s eSlate machines, used by Garfield County voters to make their selections, remain conditionally certified, Alberico said.

Elsewhere in the Roaring Fork Valley, voting systems were unaffected. Both Pitkin and Eagle counties use systems that escaped the state’s decertifications.

Several county clerks and recorders are looking into the possibility of an all-mail ballot election for 2008, Alberico said. During a Joint Budget Committee meeting on Friday, clerks from other counties said they didn’t have enough money to purchase new voting machines, and if they did, there wouldn’t be enough time to teach workers how to use them.

“We currently have no options to conduct an election as things stand right now,” Jefferson County clerk and recorder Pam Anderson told committee members.

A mail-in ballot election presents several challenges to Garfield County because some machines that Coffman decertified are used by the county to tabulate election results.

“That still means I have to find a piece of equipment that will count those paper ballots,” Alberico said.

One possible solution is to update Garfield County’s eScan machines’ software to a newer version, which has been certified at the federal level and in several other states, Alberico said.

“That might be the solution for us,” Alberico said. “If (Coffman) could approve the updated version of the software, that wouldn’t be a huge expense for us.”

Alberico said the county pays for software upgrades out of the clerk and recorder’s maintenance budget.

“The only expense would be the people from Hart coming and installing that hardware,” Alberico said. “That’s a relatively inexpensive cost. If we had to buy someone else’s equipment, then that could be a huge cost.”

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