Rocky Mountain News


Voter group wants state to switch to paper ballots


By Lynn Bartels, Rocky Mountain News

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


A citizens voter group critical of Colorado's election policies urged the state Monday to abandon electronic voting machines in 2008 and switch to paper ballots.


The Colorado Voter Group issued a report saying its recommendations are "designed to reduce the risks associated with electronic vote recording and counting equipment."


In addition, the group opposes any effort to make the election an all-mail ballot, spokesman Al Kolwicz said.


"The Colorado Voter Group has found that anonymous paper ballots, with votes marked in a precinct's private voting booth and hand-counted, are the most trustworthy and transparent voting method," he said.


Disabled voters in each county would still be able to vote electronically, as required by federal law, he said.


The report comes as worries mount about how Colorado is going to handle next year's elections, but some county clerks are skeptical about the recommendations.


"Hand-counting ballots?" said Arapahoe County Clerk Nancy Doty. "That would take months."


Kolwicz said counties could either count ballots by hand or use optical scanners that are closely audited.


"He's putting faith in optical scanners but not (electronic machines)?" Doty responded.


"I don't see much difference between a mail-in ballot election and requiring paper ballots at the polling site, although that is much more expensive," Doty said.


County clerks have lobbied Secretary of State Mike Coffman for an all-mail-ballot election next year, but Coffman has pointed out that voters rejected the idea in a 2002 statewide referendum.


Coffman also said he is worried about intimidation and privacy issues, the same fears raised by the Colorado Voter Group.


"In-person voting can be made intimidation-free and electioneering-free while mail voting cannot," Kolwicz said.




Posted by margitjo on November 24, 2007 at 4:38 p.m.


Mail ballot elections are not as secure as paper ballot elections at the precinct, as with mail ballots, more anonymous parties handle the ballots, or have a greater ability to influence votes. There are assertions that mail ballot elections increase turnout, but there is evidence to the contrary. Counties have optical scanners now, to count absentee ballots. These optical scanners are used for counting both mail ballots and non-mail paper ballots. The public wants secure elections, more easily obtained with precinct-based paper ballots. We don't understand why the county clerks champion the insecure alternative, as there is little hard evidence on the advantages of mail ballots. We suggest that the clerks need to re-think their priorities. There needs to be a debate on the issue where the public is fairly represented, so that legislators are not unduly influenced by the county clerks association and its paid lobbyist.


Posted by PKlammer on November 26, 2007 at 1:20 a.m.


"Hand-counting ballots?" said Arapahoe County Clerk Nancy Doty. "That would take months."


Oh, yeah? You mean counting the ballots that took one day to cast, would take more time to count than the casting took?


How long does it take to count your change in your pocket, Ms. Doty? How long does it take you to count the dollar bills in your wallet? Does it take you a full 8-hour shift to verify the number of cards in a full deck?


If you can't do better than that, Ms. Doty, I'm not sure you have a full deck!


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