Voting security increased
Denver court orders county offices to comply with regulations
Voter registration forms are available at local post offices, libraries and municipal offices. Forms can also be downloaded online. The deadline for voter registration is Tuesday.
Coming this weekend
A voter information guide, compiled by the Routt County Clerk and Recorder's office, will be inserted in Friday's Steamboat Today and Sunday's Steamboat Pilot. The guide will contain sample ballots, a precinct map, and more election information.
Steamboat Springs — Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said in her 12 years on the job, she has never seen election security measures tighter than those in place this year.
A week ago, Weinland received a packet of updated regulations from the office of Colorado Secretary of State Gigi Dennis. The regulations, ordered by a Denver district court, outline security requirements to ensure the accuracy of results from electronic voting machines. Routt County uses 35 electronic machines at its eight voting centers.
The regulations are intended to prevent tampering with the machines or with the computer-hardware memory cards that store votes electronically.
“When not sealed in voting machines, such cards and cartridges shall be transferred in secure containers with at least two tamper-evident seals with printed serial numbers,” the 11-page document reads. “The integrity and serial number of each seal shall be verified by election officials at shipping and receiving locations. All documentation of seals, chain of custody and other documents related to the transfer of equipment between parties shall be maintained on file by the Clerk and Recorder and is subject to inspection by the Secretary of State.”
The district order is the result of a lawsuit against the state brought by 13 citizens last month. The lawsuit accused Dennis’ office of certifying the voting machines without properly reviewing their reliability and security.
Hart InterCivic, one of four firms named in the lawsuit, manufactured Routt County’s electronic voting machines.
The district judge ruled in favor Dennis’ office and the certification procedures.
Ken Gordon, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, called Dennis’ certification work “abysmal” when he was in Steamboat Springs on Monday. He also accused Dennis of using her office to make partisan decisions, citing an Aug. 2 ruling restricting campaign donations from small-donor groups. The ruling was widely thought to hurt Democratic candidates much more than Republican candidates. Dennis is a Republican.
The Colorado Court of Appeals rejected the ruling last week.
On Wednesday, Dennis was listed as an honorary co-chair of a fundraising luncheon for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, a U.S. representative from Arvada. President Bush attended the luncheon.
Bill Compton, former state director of elections and former executive director of the Denver Election Commission, blasted Dennis’ co-chair position.
“I’m appalled at the blatant, partisan behavior of this secretary. Behaving in such a blatantly partisan manner violates the integrity of the elections process,” Compton said.
“Election administrators are held to a higher standard because they serve all voters and their decisions affect all voters, regardless of political affiliation. : In my 21 years of election administration, I’ve never seen anything like this. It is unfortunate that the public perception of bias does not appear to concern this secretary at all.”
In March, Compton left his position in election administration to become political director for the state Democratic Party.
Mike Coffman, the Republican candidate for secretary of state, visits Steamboat on Friday.
Weinland is a Republican running unopposed for re-election. She has told the Steamboat Pilot & Today that Routt County’s voting machines were tested numerous times before their initial, successful use in the Aug. 8 primary election. She said this week that her office will comply with all security requirements in the court order.
Two Routt County commissioners expressed support this week for Weinland and local elections.
“These (security) regulations make us look like we’ve done bad in the past,” Commissioner Doug Monger said. “We’ve always had good elections in Routt County.”
Commissioner Dan Ellison agreed.
“Kay takes great pride in her work and in her election judges,” Ellison said.
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Steamboat Springs is expected to finish off July with slightly more precipitation than in previous years.