Secretary of State praises local improvements for voters

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Routt County is no longer on the state's Election Watch List.

Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman announced Thursday that the Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office has corrected voting problems highlighted in the 2006 general election, when difficulties with new electronic voting machines and crowded polling locations created delays of up to four hours for some voters.

Coffman said in a statement Thursday that throughout 2007 and so far in 2008, Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland has "consistently provided (the Secretary of State's) office with updates to changes to your election process." Coffman said staff from his office visited Routt County in May and documented changes to the election process.

"Clerk Weinland has been tireless in her commitment to ensure that her voters won't experience excessive wait times," Coffman said, before addressing Weinland directly. "The voters in Routt County should have the utmost respect for you and confidence in the elections held in your county."

When Routt County was added to the watch list in April 2007, Coffman's office wrote that "Routt County voters experienced significantly long lines during last November's election. :The long lines were the result of county officials underestimating the number of electronic voting machines needed. While Routt County was in compliance with minimum state standards, these long lines may have caused some voters to be turned away from the polls on Election Day."

Coffman cited three documented improvements to Routt County's ballot process for upcoming elections: returning to precinct-based polling locations to shorten wait times, adding two polling locations in Steamboat Springs and making paper ballots available at each location; on-site technical support, specific to Routt County, by Texas-based voting machine manufacturer Hart InterCivic, along with on-call county information system support on Election Day; and communication procedures to "ensure contact with county employees in the event of an emergency or technical issue."

When the county was added to the watch list, Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush called the decision "politically driven" to advance "(Coffman's) own political agenda."

On Thursday, Weinland thanked county commissioners for their support in purchasing additional voting machines, and praised the work of her staff and the Citizens Election Review Committee, which was formed after the flawed 2006 election to review and improve the county's voting procedure.

The primary election is Aug. 12. Election Day is Nov. 4.

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