Colorado election snafu roundup: Clerks resort to robocalls to fix bad registrations

(Photo/mystereys, Flickr)

(Photo/mystereys, Flickr)

The clock is ticking down until Colorado’s big day. And with the John McCain campaign all but pulling out of the state as Barack Obama pushes forward, the result of the November election in Colorado may be coming into focus.

Unfortunately, when it comes to election administration in Colorado, things are getting muddier and muddier by the day. In our election bungle roundup last week, we guided you through the week’s most important news: national groups slamming Secretary of State Mike Coffman on his voter registration policy, Attorney General John Suthers backing Coffman in his recent voter purge, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink further disenfranchising student voters, and more. Read on to for the latest foul-ups:

Come one, come all! Vote early! Vote by mail! Oh, wait…

This Monday kicked off the start of two weeks of early voting in Colorado. Long-touted as the antidote to massive Election Day lines, Monday’s early vote went smoothly, according to The Rocky Mountain News. But not so with another type of voting. County clerks across the state found their offices gummed up with mail-in ballot requests and unable to quickly deliver ballots to waiting voters. In Adams County, election workers were put on mandatory 12-hour shifts this week to deal with the avalanche of mail-in forms, as the Rocky reported. Meanwhile, the Secretary of State’s office added an election tracker on its Web site complete with the ever-increasing number of mail-in ballot requests. Now you can watch the inundation unfold in real time.

Think you’re registered to vote? The answer depends on where you live.

A few county clerks got feisty this week by accepting some incomplete voter registrations onto the rolls. According to the Rocky, Jefferson and Larimer counties absorbed registrations with the so-called “check box” issue, in which applicants wrote down the last four digits of their Social Security numbers but neglected to check a box indicating as much. Other counties have been rejecting these forms until the applicant cures his or her registration, per the secretary of state’s wishes. Coffman, who has ignored voting experts’ pleas to change his policy, issued a wrist-slap to the clerks, telling them to follow the law, according to The Denver Post. Meanwhile, Denver County has pulled out all the stops to get “check box” voters to cure their forms before Election Day. The most recent attempt? Robocalls.

A little extra oversight on Election Day? Not for those of you in Arapahoe County…

Voting rights experts aren’t the only ones fretting over Colorado’s ability to pull off the national election. Early this week, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat who represents Arapahoe County, sent a letter to Secretary of State Coffman asking him to pick an independent election monitor to survey the Arapahoe County polls on Election Day, according to The Denver Post. Perlmutter specifically worried that the county — which will use electronic voting machines this election — is unprepared to deal with machine failures, and he asked Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder Nancy Doty to stock paper ballots at the polls. Traditionally Republican Arapahoe County has seen a huge increase in Democratic registrations this year, and Perlmutter said he wants things to go smoothly on Election Day. But in keeping with his no-way-no-how reputation, Coffman rebuffed Perlmutter, saying in a letter that he won’t post a monitor “unless there are concerns submitted to my office that election laws in Arapahoe County are not being adhered to,” according to the Rocky.

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Naomi Zeveloff

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