New voting equipment deal signed

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Moffat County Clerk and Recorder Elaine Sullivan isn't worried about how the county will pay for new electronic election equipment anymore.

About $124,0000 in grant money will pay for the majority of the $130,000 project.

• Commissioners discussed various legislative proposals that would use severance taxes to pay for state programs. Commissioners said money from severance taxes, which energy companies pay, should stay in areas like Northwest Colorado because those regions feel the effects of energy development.

• Commissioners discussed immigration reform. Commissioner Darryl Steele said officials need to make legal immigration easier so illegal immigration is less tempting.

• Commissioners discussed a new policy that requires customers at the Clerk's Office to have legal identification to complete vehicle registration.

• Commissioners discussed last week's decision to refinance the Moffat County Public Safety Center. Commissioners said the county's improved credit rating was proof of improving economic health for the budget.

• Commissioners approved a personnel requisition for a temporary heavy equipment operator at the Road and Bridge Department by a 2-1 vote. Commissioner Saed Tayyara voted against it, saying he feared the position would evolve into a full-time position.

• Commissioners approved a personnel requisition for a full-time heavy equipment operator at the Road and Bridge Department by a 2-1 vote. Commissioner Saed Tayyara again voted against, this time because the position started as a part-time position before becoming full-time. Hiring too many people could lead to future layoffs, Tayyara said.

• Commissioners approved an agreement between Moffat County Department of Social Services and Steamboat Springs Transit to transport people to Steamboat Springs for work. The agreement will cost $16,145.

• Moffat County Department of Social Services received a congratulations letter from the state because the department didn't have any errors in a food stamp report.

• Commissioners discussed building a caretaker home at Sherman Youth Camp with Parks and Recreation Director Steve Grandbouche.

But learning how to operate the new equipment, which Sullivan hopes will be ready for the primary election in August, is cause for concern.

"We're excited, but at the same time, we're scared to death," Sullivan told the Moffat County commissioners on Tuesday.

Commissioners signed an agreement Tuesday allowing Sullivan move forward with the purchase of new equipment.

Included in the agreement is $1,500 for training Sullivan's staff and election judges in how to use the new voting machines.

"If there is any glitch in this thing and there has to be something fixed on it, we're going to need that," Sullivan said about the training.

The county will buy 10 voting machines and five precinct scanners, Sullivan said. The precinct scanners will count the votes faster than the county's current scanner, Sullivan said.

The agreement also includes a warranty and says a representative from the manufacturer will be on site on Election Day in case there are any problems, Sullivan said.

Before signing the agreement, Commissioner Saed Tayyara said he wants to make sure the equipment works correctly and that the county's elections run smoothly.

"We're not Florida," Tayyara said, referring to the voting problems that occurred there in 2000.

Federal and state laws require that the county buy new machines by the end of 2007.

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which passed after the 2000 general election, requires counties to have machines that make it easier for people with disabilities to vote.

Commissioners commended Sullivan and Chief Deputy Clerk Lila Herod for their work on making the county HAVA-compliant.

Sullivan said the new machines tell voters whether they under-voted and give them a chance to correct mistakes.

The machines also have headphones for blind people, and they make it easier for hearing-impaired people to vote, Sullivan said.

She said her office plans to host open houses to teach voters how the machines before the election.

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