Election fixes demand rebuilding of voter trust
In the wake of a state investigation into last November’s Garfield County election, voters are suffering from a damaged sense of trust in election fairness.
One ballot question and a City Council race would have had opposite outcomes if votes had been counted properly, and the Colorado Secretary of State’s office laid the blame squarely on the desk of County Clerk Mildred Alsdorf.
Clearly it is time for major reform in the clerk’s office, and the responsibility for that effort rests on Alsdorf, who was elected to manage elections fairly. The effort needs to be quick, thorough, permanent and without error.
“The flawed results of both races demonstrate the numerous problems with this election,” reported investigator Drew Durham. “As a result, voter confidence in the fairness and honesty of elections has been undermined.”
Durham directs the Help America Vote Act program within the Secretary of State’s office. He is an advocate for voters.
He found that while Alsdorf and her staff were working with aging vote-counting equipment, the errors were all human-caused. But his authority to impose sanctions is limited to requiring training to bring the elections process up to snuff.
To her credit, Alsdorf had already made arrangements for staff training when Durham issued his report last week.
In a conversation Monday with the Post Independent Editorial Board, Alsdorf expressed her distress over the election problems.
“It bothers me this happened. I’m going to do everything I can to correct all this. I want people to have confidence when they vote. With two major elections coming up, we’re going to do a turnaround,” she said.
These aren’t the first election problems to crop up under Alsdorf’s watch, but they are by far the most serious.
At this point, Alsdorf is on probation in the eyes of county voters, and she has a lot of work ahead to regain the faith of the electorate.
From now to the end of her term of office in 2006, county voters need to see flawless elections in order to rebuild their trust in her, and their confidence in a fair and honest election process.
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