Garfield County clerk needs answer on voting machines |

Garfield County clerk needs answer on voting machines

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Colorado county clerk and recorders want an answer. And they want it soon ” preferably by Feb. 1, but no later than March 1.

The clock is slowly winding down to Colorado’s Aug. 12 primaries and the November presidential election, and county clerks, including Garfield County’s Jean Alberico, still don’t know whether their voting machines will be certified in time for them to prepare for the voting.

“We really, absolutely have to know by March 1, especially if we are going to have to buy new equipment,” Alberico said.

The state’s election system was thrown into chaos last month when Secretary of State Mike Coffman announced that he was decertifying three electronic voting machines across the state based on accuracy and security problems.

Garfield County is in a particular bind because Coffman decertified Hart InterCivic’s eScan, which the county uses to read paper ballots in county elections.

Alberico said it was also imperative for clerks to get an idea how they will conduct this year’s election, which may be by paper balloting at polling places in Colorado counties or by a paper mail-ballot election.

Garfield County Commissioner John Martin echoed Alberico’s concerns about the state’s voting machine dilemma.

“Anything she needs, as soon as she needs it, we will get it for her so that the elections will go (forward),” Martin said. “We want the election to go as smoothly as possible.”

Some county clerks and vendors of voting machines have appealed the decertification of the machines, but Alberico said it is almost impossible to know whether those appeals will be resolved in time for counties to prepare for elections. All the counties that use Hart’s eScan equipment have collectively appealed the machine’s decertification, Alberico said.

Elsewhere in the Roaring Fork Valley, Pitkin and Eagle counties are not grappling with problem voting machines.

A bill winding its way through the state Legislature may give the clerks in counties that have decertified machines the answer they are looking for. Coffman has said he wanted a bill so that the state could avoid a lengthy appeals process regarding the voting machines.

The Colorado House of Representatives recently approved House Bill 1155, which would allow Coffman to retest voting machines he disqualified in December. The bill is now being considered by the Colorado Senate.

“It allows (Coffman) to either amend or rescind his certification of the different pieces of equipment,” Alberico said.

The bill would not relax existing voting machine standards in the state, according to the text of the bill. It would allow county clerks’ staffs to operate their machines during the additional testing and would give them 30 days of notice about what voting systems they may use in the primary and general elections this year.

A parallel effort to help counties that use Hart’s eScan machine is also ongoing, Alberico said. The company has applied to the state to have its machine’s updated software certified, Alberico said.

“That testing procedure has not begun yet,” said Alberico.

She said the software upgrade is federally certified and is also certified in several other states.

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