Election snafu roundup: Lots of tricks, some treats for voters

(Photo/unquiet, Flickr)
(Photo/unquiet, Flickr)

It’s not over yet. With Election Day just around the bend, questions about Colorado’s ability to pull off the big event have only mounted in recent days. Over the past two weeks, the Colorado Independent has published a Friday digest of the most important election administration news of that week. We’ve steered you through all sorts of wreckage: county clerks defying Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman in accepting incomplete voter registrations, Coffman admitting that he purged thousands of voters from the state rolls, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink trying to stop students from registering, and on and on and on.

In our third and final installment of our election snafu roundup, we’ll tell you the latest bungles. You’ll have to read on for more. But since it’s Halloween, feel free to insert your own tired cliche about how the state’s election administration is looking spookier than ever. Trust us, you’ll be accurate.

A prayer for you purged ones …

Thousands of voters who were kicked off state rolls will now be able to cast a special provisional ballot. That’s according to a settlement reached by voting rights experts and the secretary of state’s office this week. The Advancement Project filed suit against Coffman late last week to force him to reinstate as many as 30,000 voters who were allegedly illegally removed from the rolls. But after a grueling eight hours of deliberation in the federal courthouse on Wednesday, both sides agreed to a different temporary fix. The purged voters will be able to vote provisionally. Their ballots will be verified before any others in the provisional stack in the two weeks after the election. But the story doesn’t end there. Coffman told the Rocky Mountain News that he’ll keep purging voters as long as he sees fit.

UPDATE: The Advancement Project is hauling Coffman back into court over the continued “cancellation” of voters. An emergency hearing has been scheduled for 1 p.m.

Oh, here’s your mail-in ballot!

Denver County elections officials were perplexed last week when thousands of mail-in ballots they had ordered went unaccounted for. But early this week they solved the case of the absent forms. Turns out that the ballot vendor, Sequoia Voting Systems, was at fault because of a glitch in its data file. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the 18,000 missing ballots were delivered to voters, who had to scramble to mail them in on time.

Dude, where’s your ID?

Forget glomming through your mail-in ballot to find the coveted “I voted” sticker. Nearly 36,000 first-time voters may have their ballots tossed out because info jotted down on their new voter registration forms doesn’t match state data sources that clerks’ use to verify identification.

Instructions contained inside the mail-in ballot packet asks new voters to provide a copy of their driver’s license or other state-approved source, like a utility bill, to prove their identity. But voters, cited in a Rocky Mountain news story, argue there was no ID directive or the color-coded envelope contradicted the fine print on the ballot materials. New voters, who did not include an ID verification with their mail-in ballots, are urged to contact their County Clerk and Recorder immediately to ensure the ballot will be counted.

Electronic voting? Shmelectronic voting.

A Denver-based electronic voting test site was suspended this week for failing to meet federal standards. SysTest labs was charged with testing two types of electronic voting machines for use in future elections. But the federal Election Assistance Commission put the operation on ice because it failed to employ qualified people or keep a record of its testing, among other problems. One of the machine types evaluated at the site, Premier Election Systems (formerly known as Diebold) has come under scrutiny in Adams County for alleged vote-flipping.

Denver welcomes you poor, huddled incomplete voters

Denver County lent a hand to voters with incomplete registrations this week by allowing those folks to fix their forms at the polls and vote regular ballots. Several thousand new voters statewide failed to properly fill out their registration forms by neglecting to check a box indicating that they would be using the last four digits of their social security number as ID. Voting rights groups pressured Coffman to accept the so-called “check box” voters into the system, but Coffman did not relent. Now, these voters who live in Denver will be able to vote like everyone else.

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