Voting had few snags, went smoothly around Garfield County |

Voting had few snags, went smoothly around Garfield County

John Gardner and Dennis WebbPost Independent Staff

For those who didn’t take advantage of early voting or absentee voting, the long lines that where expected at local polling places didn’t happen.Voting went better than expected at the Glenwood Springs Community Center. Paper or electronic, voters were in and out in under 20 minutes, and very few had any complaints.”It’s (the electronic ballot) been working real well,” said election judge Ray Schmahl. “There is only one machine, so there has been a line to use it but, it’s only been taking about the same amount of time as the paper ballots. Being prepared is the key.”Even with the longer line to use the electronic ballot the machine ran smoothly until polling closed at 7 p.m.”We haven’t had any hang-ups,” Schmahl said.Voters, like Marie Hale, who used the new machine were impressed with it.”It worked great,” she said. “It was real simple and even though I hadn’t done my homework beforehand, it was easy to navigate and to read.”Others even preferred the electronic ballot over the paper.”It was actually easier than the other,” said Chad Yeatts, who waited in the longer line just to have a crack at the machine.”I still have only been here for 20 minutes,” he said.Voters who chose not to wait for the machine had almost no wait time at all.”I didn’t even wait for two minutes,” said Cathy Massau.The long line for the machine did discourage some voters from using the electronic ballots. Mitch Helle said he was “totally for the new machines,” adding that the process has got to change to the electronic system, but the reason he didn’t use the machine was because of the long line.Voters in Silt had a slightly different view about the machines. At the fire station in Silt, only 31 of 350 people voting by 4 p.m. used the electronic voting machine.”They don’t like it. They’re afraid of it, and it’s not faster,” said election judge Jacque Burris.Sandy Coe said the electronic machine was occupied when she voted, so she went with a paper ballot.”I think electronic would have been fine. It’s just time constraints more than anything,” Coe said.Her daughter Natalie also voted with a paper ballot. “I would have preferred the new way,” she said.Michelle Pizzelli also chose to use a paper ballot because she didn’t want to wait. Her husband John, who had voted earlier using an absentee ballot, was leery about the reliability of the electronic machines. He feared irregularities of the kind that have occurred in other states.”Computers aren’t perfect. I’m a hard-copy kind of guy,” he said.Silt voters in precinct 18 couldn’t vote electronically because the machine hadn’t been programmed to allow it, said election judge Bob Slade. Garfield County Clerk Mildred Alsdorf said she hadn’t heard from Silt poll workers about that.”They’re supposed to call me whenever there’s a problem,” she said.Ed Sands, an attorney who is serving as Garfield County counsel for the Democratic Party for the election, said the precinct problem would be a significant “faux pas.” But he said voting had been going pretty smoothly at the county human services building in Rifle. Lines were getting longer there toward the end of the day, causing waits of perhaps 10 or 15 minutes, he said. As of about 5 p.m., he said he hadn’t heard of any major problems from Democratic poll watchers at other polling places in the county.Alsdorf also was hearing good reports from the field.”All the judges seem to feel that it’s gone good,” she said.She said she was amazed that so few people voted electronically. However, she noted that she had insisted on keeping a paper ballot option, unlike in some counties.”It’s something new and sometimes people are leery,” she said.

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