Wariness varies over voting machine integrity | AspenTimes.com

Wariness varies over voting machine integrity

John Colson

Both candidates hoping to be Colorado’s next secretary of state say they will be keeping an eye on the results for indications that the newly mandated, electronic voting machines have made a mess of things.But, both also say they are satisfied that everything possible has been done to ensure a fair election on Nov. 7, at least as far as technology is concerned. Republican Mike Coffman expressed both confidence in the new system and concern over allegations that the new machines are not reliable. Democrat Ken Gordon, an advocate of paper ballots to backup electronic voting machines, is urging people to vote by mail.In the meantime, local county clerks are about to begin testing the new machines, and all appear confident that the system will function correctly.Colorado, like the rest of the country, for the first time this year will be using electronic voting machines, in compliance with federal election requirements under the “Help America Vote Act,” known as HAVA.But, recent lawsuits in Colorado and other states have uncovered problems with the machines’ reliability and the potential for tampering with the technology and altering the results.Coffman (R-Aurora) said he thinks Colorado will have a fair and honest general election, but is concerned about “allegations” that the machines are not reliable.”People have to have confidence in the system, or turnout will be suppressed,” he said. Observers around the state have said voter confidence in the upcoming general election is already low.Gordon said voters should cast their ballots absentee or early whenever possible, just in case there is a problem with the machines on election day.The Denver Democrat pointed out that he initiated a recent Colorado statute requiring that electronic voting machines have a paper ballot backup built into the system.”I am encouraging people to vote by mail” in this election, he said.”It’s a big ballot anyway,” he remarked, and with the new technology and the possibility that problems will arise “there could be long lines on election day.” Voting early, he said, will alleviate some of the pressure on election officials.Coffman pledged that after the election, if he is the new secretary of state, he will investigate the process of certification for the state’s electronic voting machines. Gordon noted that “there are problems with the paper, as well,” some of which he said is heat-sensitive, and he plans to look into the reliability of a paper backup in the future.A judge reviewing a lawsuit filed against Sec. of State Gigi Dennis over the machines’ reliability recently concluded that the certification process for the machines was slipshod and inadequate.The judge did not rule that the machines should be recertified, but ordered that security precautions to guarantee the election’s integrity be issued by Dennis before the election.That set of precautionary guidelines was issued in late September, and the county clerks in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties say that they are being implemented.In each local county, testing of the machines will begin next week to ensure that they are working properly. Audits conducted of the recent primary election results showed that “the machines were accurate,” said Eagle County Clerk Teak Simonton.In each of the three local counties, paper backup systems will be on hand in case of trouble.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com

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