Questions still loom over how voting machine mandates will impact county

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Moffat County Clerk and Recorder Elaine Sullivan said she is still unsure about what the county is going to have to do to meet requirements dictating that every voting precinct must have computer-touch screens for people to vote at if they choose.

In a recent county commissioner meeting, Sullivan and Chief Deputy of Moffat County Elections Lila Herod told the commissioners that the upgrades could cost the county up to $140,000.

The legislation was passed in October of 2002, but Sullivan said Thursday that specific requirements have not yet been passed down from the federal government.

"We don't have the requirements yet from the federal government on what the state is going to have to do," she said. "We can't

purchase anything until we know for sure what they're going to

require."

The legislation mandates that every voting precinct have direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems. Basically, a computer-touch screen that people can vote on if they choose.

The machines are estimated to cost between $3,000 and $5,000.

But the systems also must have additional features, including software that allows individuals with disabilities the accessibility to vote independently and privately.

These additional features could cost an additional $5,000, bringing the total to approximately $10,000 per machine, per precinct.

With 13 voting precincts in Moffat County, including a precinct at the Moffat County Courthouse for early and absentee voting, the total cost of placing one machine in

each precinct could set the county back $140,000.

The new system has to be up and running by Jan. 1, 2006, -- meaning the systems likely would have to be purchased and installed sometime in 2005.

The upgrades required are part of a federal mandate that will require states to create a single uniformed statewide voter registration system.

Congress has authorized more than $2 billion nationwide for the equipment.

The money will be distributed to the Colorado Secretary of State, and will be distributed at her discretion.

Sullivan said she will attend a trade show in Denver in July at which new voting equipment will be available.

She said that show might give local officials a better feel of what's available and what the cost might be.

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