Bill looks to address voting machine problems |

Bill looks to address voting machine problems

DENVER ” Republican and Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday allowing Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman to retest and possibly recertify the electronic voting machines he disqualified last month.

The measure (House Bill 1155) allows Coffman to test the equipment after they have undergone software upgrades or other changes. However, it specifies that he can’t relax the standards and must explain any decision to recertify a machine.

Lawmakers working on how this year’s election should be handled are leaning toward using paper ballots but some electronic voting machines must be available for handicapped voters and anyone else who wants them under federal law. In addition, some of the optical scanners needed to count paper ballots were among those machines decertified last month. Coffman has said there are some proposed changes that he would like to test on the machines.

In a written statement, state Reps. David Balmer, R-Centennial, and Rosemary Marshall, D-Denver, and Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon said they were working with their colleagues, county clerks, Coffman, the governor and citizens to develop “a reliable, paper-based voting system.”

“We’ll need a certain amount of electronic voting machines to comply with federal law. But we believe that the votes cast in 2008 should be recorded on paper,” they said.

They introduced the bill along with Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins.

Coffman requested the bill so he could avoid a lengthy appeals process and focus on fixing problems with the machines.

“The bill definitely moves us in the right direction,” he said.

The bill would also allow county clerks, who run elections and use the machines, to be involved in testing. They were left out of the process because Coffman didn’t want to give the impression they were influencing his decision following a 2006 lawsuit challenging the machines. It charged, in part, that the machines were approved following political pressure from clerks.

Coffman said having that language in the bill would allow him to reach out to clerks. He said he met with clerks gathered for a meeting in Pueblo on Wednesday and planned to reach 10 others he wasn’t able to meet with there.

In the Roaring Fork Valley, Garfield County is grappling with problem voting machines. Pitkin and Eagle counties don’t use the de-certified machines.

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