Routt County’s Election Day votes checked for accuracy
November 16, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Just because the political winners and losers usually are known by the conclusion of Election Day doesn’t mean the work is done for the election judges and officials who oversee the democratic process.
On Thursday, the Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office began to canvass the vote, a tedious process that helps ensure all ballots were counted — and counted correctly.
"It puts a seal of public approval on the process," Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said. "It proves that we did it right, and it's important that the public has comfort in that."
The process was expected to be completed by Friday afternoon. By midday Friday, Weinland said officials had found no mistakes.
Both paper ballots and those cast using the county’s electronic voting machines were being audited.
In one room, Weinland was joined by Brita Horn, who represented the Routt County Republican Party, and Lynn Abbott, who represented the Routt County Democratic Party.
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"I think it's a process we need to see through to the end, and I like to see the conclusion of it," Horn said. "It's closure."
The three women were auditing the votes cast by residents who used the voting machines.
"We have to make sure we agree," Abbott said.
To make sure the votes were correct, Weinland read off the votes from the paper ballots that were printed by the voting machine after each voter finished making their selections. Abbott and Horn tallied the votes, and the votes then were compared to vote numbers that had been calculated electronically.
In addition to the post-election work, the voting machines were tested for accuracy before the election.
"There are a lot of checks and balances," Weinland said.
Across the hall in the historic Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat, paper ballots were being audited to ensure they had been counted accurately by the county’s automated ballot scanner. The team was examining the votes on 448 paper ballots that represented a certain percentage of the total vote. It is a tedious process requiring the election judges to go through the ballots one race at a time and count the votes.
They tally the total using an adding machine and compare that number to what the scanner counted. Routt County Democratic Party chairwoman Catherine Carson said there had been some discrepancies in the numbers, so they counted them again. In each case of a discrepancy, it turned out the ballot scanner was right and the humans who tallied the ballots had made the mistake.
"It's so tedious, and it's almost impossible not to make a mistake," Carson said.
After the work is complete, a board composed of two Democrats and two Republicans will sign off on the audit. Weinland then will release the certified results, which will be sent to the state and combined with the votes from Colorado's other 63 counties.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com