Tuesday, November 14, 2006
As everyone knows by now, on Nov. 7, many voters stood in line 1 1/2 to 2 hours, with some waiting nearly four hours for the privilege to vote. In all, 4000 dedicated voters persevered on Election Day. The Democratic Party congratulates and thanks them for their patience and their commitment to the democratic process.
We recognize that the combination of new voting machines, new and fewer vote centers, a long and complex ballot, and peaked interest in this year's election combined to present serious challenges to County Clerk Kay Weinland and her staff. She has already begun plans to counteract these problems for the next election, and we applaud these efforts. With the help of our poll watchers, who observed the Election Day proceedings at each of the eight vote centers, we also have compiled a list of suggestions for solving these difficulties. These relate not only to the number of machines and vote centers but to such issues as more support from Hart, which makes the machines and more hands-on training for judges and staff who must start up and close down the machines or change the paper in the machines.
Among other suggestions, we also recommend more time for early voting, including extended weekday hours and voting on Saturday. There are 18 suggestions in all. We believe that our most important recommendation is the necessity for a non-technical back-up plan: paper ballots. Paper ballots should have been available this year. They must be available in the future.
We have met with Weinland and found her to be receptive to our suggestions. We are convinced that Routt County offficials can work together to ensure that our next election runs as smoothly as all our past elections. To this end, we propose the formation of an advisory committee consisting of the County Clerk and her staff, other elected officials, members of the public and party officers. This advisory committee would examine the election process with the goal of protecting our voters, the very essence of our democracy. It would analyze projections of the number of voters in Routt County in 2007and - through extensive analysis of this year's data - determine the number of machines needed. The advisory committee would consider our recommendations, as well as suggestions of all others involved. The final report from this committee would be presented to the Routt County commissioners for their consideration and implementation.
By working together, we can ensure a positive voting experience for all our voters in the next election.
Ken Brenner, Chairman
Routt County Democratic Party