Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland participated in an online chat with steamboatpilot.com on Friday. Below is a portion of the chat:
Q: Is there a backup plan prepared in the case that the electronic voting machines do not function properly?
A: Yes, the equipment has battery back-up and triple redundancy. If there is a major equipment failure, voters will be sent to other vote centers. We also have backup plans for the poll book connection.
The equipment has undergone both Federal and State of Colorado Certification testing. For the current election, we have a county test that was done internally. We also have a public testing process that is accomplished by volunteers from both major political parties. We underwent about 12 hours of testing - every feature tested perfectly! We also will have a post election audit that will be done in the same fashion - a volunteer from each of the major political parties will complete the testing. The post election audit is a hand count of the votes cast on two pieces of equipment from the paper print out. The equipment is randomly selected by the Secretary of State within 24 hours of the close of the polls.
Q: The Denver Post had a front-page story this week warning people to be patient on election night, because results could be slow coming in. There seems to be some uneasiness about the new machines and how they will work. What's your expectation for Routt County?
A: I have encouraged voters to go to vote prepared - this is important due to both the new equipment and the length of the ballot. Sample ballots are available and we will have sample ballots available on Election Day, There may be a wait on Election Day, but if voters are courteous to fellow voters and go to vote prepared the flow should be good. There always has been a 10 minute limit in the voting booth, so we will remind voters of this prior to their voting. I think the good turnout for Early and Absentee Voting will make Tuesday's turnout lighter. I anticipate we will be able to report Early and Absentee results shortly after 7 pm and if things go as expected at the Vote Centers we look forward to having the unofficial results by 9:30-10 p.m.
Q: Early voting ended Friday. Based on the turnout you have seen for early voting, what kind of overall turnout can we expect on Tuesday? Give us your best guess on the percentage of registered voters in the county who will vote?
A: We have had a great turnout so far for early and absentee voting - it is comparable to the 2004 presidential election. Based on early voting I optimistically hope for a 75 percent to 80 percent turnout. This is higher than the estimated turnout that the Secretary of State predicts for the state-wide turnout, but Routt County typically beats the rest of the state in voter turnout.
Q: This year, we are going to a new system with eight voting centers in the county. People can vote at any of the voting centers. But will votes still be broken out by voting precinct so that we can see which geographic areas supported which candidates and which issues?
A: Yes, each of the vote centers will be able to report votes for all 18 precincts in the county. The electronic equipment will allow us to also report early voting by precinct. In the past it was reported as one large precinct.
Q: What do voters need to have with them on election day?
A: Voters will need to provide an accepted form of ID when voting. A Colorado Driver's license or Colorado ID or any of a number of other identifications is accepted. The list of acceptable ID's is available in the Voting Guide/Sample Ballot insert. If a voter does not have ID with them, they will not be turned away - they will be required to vote a Provisional Ballot.
Q: Much has been written about the increase in illegal immigration in this area. What steps are in place to keep illegal immigrants from voting?
A: When a citizen registers to vote they sign a sworn statement that they are citizens of the U.S. Beyond this we are not allowed to require proof of citizenship.
Q: For those who haven't tested the new machines yet, what would you tell them to be prepared for on election day?
A: The machines are really very straight forward and intuitive. We have written instructions in the Voter Guide/Sample Ballot insert. Also, there is an instructional video playing on the local channel 6 intermittently, in addition there is an interactive demo on our web site at www.co.routt.co.us. At the vote centers we have instruction handouts and also judges to assist. I want to assure voters that the equipment is easy to use and my hope is no one will be intimidated by the new process.