Finding better ways to vote

Citizen group aims to improve local elections


— A citizens committee formed to examine and improve Routt County elections begins its work this week.

The bipartisan, 10-member Citizens' Election Review Committee will hold its first meeting from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Routt County Courthouse Annex on Sixth Street. The committee includes election judges, party officials and residents from all areas of Routt County.

The meeting is the beginning of a several-month process to create strategies for improving local elections. The agenda includes a review of the county's voting procedures and a discussion of the Nov. 7 election, during which hundreds of voters waited as long as four hours to cast their ballots. Mechanical problems shut down several of the county's electronic voting machines for an hour or more throughout the day, further increasing delays and lengthening lines.

"It will be a roundtable discussion," Weinland said about Wednesday's meeting. "The purpose of this initial meeting is to give the committee information and plan the series (of meetings in coming months)."

Although the meeting is open to the public, Weinland said public comments will not be taken Wednesday. The committee, led by Steamboat Springs attorney Mark Fischer, plans to host public meetings across the county and will ultimately prepare recommendations for the Routt County Board of Commissioners.

Weinland said written comments about local elections are always welcome and can be submitted to her office in the Routt County Courthouse on Lincoln Avenue or e-mailed to

Commissioner Doug Monger said Monday decisions about local elections could be affected by the upcoming work of the state Legislature and by decisions of Colorado's new Secretary of State, Republican Mike Coffman.

"I think we're shooting at a moving target," Monger said. "I know they're looking at some additional legislation this year."

That drew a frustrated sigh from Weinland.

"There is some legislation that we need, but every time they approve legislation, they add on amendments that aren't what we need," Weinland said. "But I am really hopeful that we can get legislation to make Election Day a school holiday. That's a critical aspect right now."

Weinland has said Steamboat Springs School District facilities, such as the commons area at Steamboat Springs High School, could be ideal locations for voting centers in future elections.

Fischer said last month he hopes the citizens committee will provide recommendations that prevent a repeat of the Nov. 7 delays.

"I would like to see structures set up so that no one has to wait more than half an hour to vote," Fischer said. "That would be my goal."


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