Garfield County plays election waiting game |

Garfield County plays election waiting game

Phillip YatesGlenwood Springs correspondentAspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS Some Mesa County commissioners this week pondered conducting the presidential election this year without state approval of its voting machines. But Garfield County Clerk and Recorder Jean Alberico said she has not had any conversations like that with Garfield County commissioners. Although Mesa commissioners have spoken about possibly going forward with this years election without the go- ahead from the secretary of state for its Election System & Software voting machines, they have not taken a position on the issue, said Janice Rich, Mesa Countys clerk and recorder. I think they were just doing a briefing and airing out their frustrations, said Rich, who was not in the room as the commissioners spoke about the issue. The states 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 InterCivics eScan, which the county uses to read paper ballots in county elections. Alberico said she is waiting for a bill that has wound its way through the state legislature to give her clarity about how the county will proceed with its decertified equipment. House Bill 1155 would allow Coffman to retest voting machines he disqualified in December, and allows him to either amend or rescind his certification of the different pieces of equipment. It is awaiting Gov. Bill Ritters signature, 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. We need to have an answer, Alberico said. That answer needs to come soon, especially in the wake of a large turnout for both Democrats and Republicans at party caucuses in Garfield County last Tuesday and the expected large turnout in November. (The caucuses) indicated to us a tremendous interest in this presidential race, said Alberico, a Democrat. The majority of the people at (the caucuses), from at least what I saw at my caucus, were there to participate in the presidential preferential poll. Last month, Ritter and state legislative leaders told clerks that they want voters to be able to cast paper ballots in person in this years election. Their plan would allow voters in the primary as well as the November presidential election to cast their ballots in polling places on Election Day or vote through early voting and by mail. However, clerks voiced opposition to that plan, citing problems with the machines and concerns about a computerized voter registration database. The Associated Press contributed to this

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