Rating county clerk’s election performance
If County Clerk Mildred Alsdorf were being graded on her handling of this year’s general election, she’d probably get about a B-. She deserves some stars for generally good work on Election Day, but also must be tagged for being tardy in getting election results.While there were some lines at polls on Election Day, they weren’t as bad as in other counties and states. We’ve heard no complaints of voters giving up in frustration, and some lines were to be expected in a presidential election that resulted in a record local turnout.A few glitches regarding ballots missing their second pages were unfortunate ones. The problem affected about 100 Battlement Mesa voters, some of whom might not have gotten the chance to vote on everything they should have, even after Alsdorf’s office tried to contact them by phone after discovering the error.Fortunately, the problem apparently affected primarily state ballot issues, none of which was close enough for the glitches to affect their outcome. But Alsdorf should review the training and instructional materials she provides poll workers to reduce the chances of similar confusion occurring again.Alsdorf has been on the hot seat in this election, after problems with previous ones that resulted in things such as miscounts and ballots running out at a polling place. The pressure was all the greater this year, with the potential for Colorado being a pivotal state in a close presidential election.But there turned out to be little election drama in Colorado, which backed solidly Bush on his way to re-election. Thankfully, the only drama locally wasn’t over the fairness of the election or accuracy of the count, but over the final results. While other county clerks were reporting final results Tuesday night, Alsdorf wasn’t doing so until about breakfast time Wednesday morning.Alsdorf’s office has a long history of being later than other county clerks with her results. We’ve hesitated to complain about it, thinking that perhaps it’s far more frustrating to journalists on deadlines than to the public at large. But with the recent increased scrutiny regarding elections nationwide, delays in vote counts only increase public skepticism about the capabilities of county clerk’s offices.Alsdorf could have helped herself some by starting to count early and absentee ballots sooner, rather than waiting until the day before Election Day. But the chief problem remains that ballots from every precinct need to be delivered to Alsdorf’s office in Glenwood Springs before being counted. Other counties use counters at each precinct to speed things up. Alsdorf could ask county commissioners for funding to do the same but never has. We encourage her to explore this option further. Those counters could run as much as $10,000 each, and Garfield County has 27 precincts, Alsdorf noted. Perhaps she could buy a few to start with, put them in places such as Carbondale and Battlement Mesa and use them to count outlying precincts. Then more could be purchased later. Maybe some federal funding also might be available through the Help America Vote Act.It was a relief to see Alsdorf put on what appears to have been a good, clean election this fall. Now if she could only run one that doesn’t keep journalists, candidates, local political junkies and her own staff up all night …It was a relief to see Alsdorf put on what appears to have been a good, clean election this fall. Now if she could only run one that doesn’t keep journalists, candidates, local political junkies and her own staff up all night …
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