Commission to support ballot protests | CraigDailyPress.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Commission to support ballot protests

Moffat County Clerks have qualms about decertification process

Collin Smith

In other action

At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission:

• Signed a memorandum of understanding with the Craig Chamber of Commerce, Moffat County Tourism Association and city of Craig to specify funding for the Moffat County Visitor Center.

• Signed a Local Government Entities Music Performance Agreement with Broadcast Music to play copyrighted music at county-owned facilities, such as the Moffat County Fairgrounds and the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

The contract pays BMI $294 per year, and grants the company 1 percent of revenues generated if an event generates $25,000 or more.

Commission members felt the contract was a money-making ploy for BMI, but recognized the county needed to obey current laws.

"There's a right way and a wrong way to oppose things," Commissioner Tom Gray said. "You don't break the law. You try and get the law changed."

Gray and Commissioner Tom Mathers voted to sign the contract. Commissioner Saed Tayyara voted against it.

• Approved a revision to the county's senior citizen snow plow policy. The county Road and Bridge Department will plow driveways for seniors on state highways when conditions are bad enough the residents cannot plow on their own.

• Signed a resolution establishing the 2008 county fees and rates schedule. The resolution included increases to costs for marriage license copies, designated Moffat County Sheriff's Office services and contractor registration.

It did not include a proposed $10 use verification fee for agriculture buildings or proposed increases to county facility rentals.

In other action

At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission:

• Signed a memorandum of understanding with the Craig Chamber of Commerce, Moffat County Tourism Association and city of Craig to specify funding for the Moffat County Visitor Center.

• Signed a Local Government Entities Music Performance Agreement with Broadcast Music to play copyrighted music at county-owned facilities, such as the Moffat County Fairgrounds and the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

The contract pays BMI $294 per year, and grants the company 1 percent of revenues generated if an event generates $25,000 or more.

Commission members felt the contract was a money-making ploy for BMI, but recognized the county needed to obey current laws.

“There’s a right way and a wrong way to oppose things,” Commissioner Tom Gray said. “You don’t break the law. You try and get the law changed.”

Gray and Commissioner Tom Mathers voted to sign the contract. Commissioner Saed Tayyara voted against it.

• Approved a revision to the county’s senior citizen snow plow policy. The county Road and Bridge Department will plow driveways for seniors on state highways when conditions are bad enough the residents cannot plow on their own.

• Signed a resolution establishing the 2008 county fees and rates schedule. The resolution included increases to costs for marriage license copies, designated Moffat County Sheriff’s Office services and contractor registration.

It did not include a proposed $10 use verification fee for agriculture buildings or proposed increases to county facility rentals.

— Elaine Sullivan, Moffat County Clerk and Recorder, appeared before the Moffat County Commission at its Tuesday meeting to protest recent state legislation regarding the 2008 general election.

The Commission agreed with Sullivan’s concerns, opting to write letters to Rep. Al White, R-Hayden, and Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, requesting they support her protest.

The state should listen to clerk and recorder offices, Commissioner Saed Tayyara said.

“I don’t think the Legislature has any business sticking their nose in it,” he added.

Late last year, Secretary of State Mike Coffman decertified at least some electronic voting machines made by three of the four companies that provide those machines to Colorado counties.

Since then, state officials and local clerk and recorder offices have scrambled to come up with a solution that will convince Coloradans the 2008 general election results can be trusted.

Through press releases, the Legislature and Gov. Bill Ritter have said they believe recent legislation requiring all counties to provide paper ballots at precinct voting stations is the best method.

“Paper ballots are a tried-and-true election method that has worked for decades,” Ritter said. “They ensure a verifiable paper trail and minimize the possibility of technology failures that have caused Election Day problems in the past.”

The majority of clerk and recorders disagree.

If the state wants all counties to conduct the same election procedure – an effort to streamline any investigations if there are Election Day problems – then an all-mailed ballot would be preferable, said Lila Herod, Moffat County Chief Deputy Clerk and Recorder.

In a general election, counties often have multiple ballots going out because of local elections and tax questions, Herod said. With different ballots going out that have to be kept separate, it will be expensive and logistically difficult for a mass of election judges to count and coordinate ballot returns in a timely and efficient manner.

“We could have up to four or five different ballot styles in our general election,” she added.

More distressing to Sullivan and Herod than the dispute about election methods is decertification in general, they said.

“The biggest issue is there have been too many changes happening for this election,” Herod said. “It’s almost too much for the clerks to even fathom. It’s confusing for everyone, and this should have been done last year.”

Court-ordered tests run by the Secretary of State’s Office did not follow real election procedures, Sullivan told the Commission.

“They ran ballots through the machines with ketchup and makeup and all kinds of things smeared on them,” she said. “In an election, if we received a ballot like that, we would take it aside and recreate it before putting it through the machine.”

Moffat County has conducted its own machine tests and compared them to a hand-counted sample for the past 20 years, Herod said, something Coffman’s office never did. The secretary’s test repeatedly ran smeared ballots through the machines and compared the numbers without comparing them to a hand-counted control group.

In Moffat County’s tests, with old and new machines, the machines were never wrong, Herod said.

“They never tested it the way it’s tested in an election system,” she said.

Coffman’s office cast unnecessary doubt on the election, Sullivan said. Now, the Legislature and the clerks and recorders are picking up the pieces.

The Legislature plans to pass some form of recertification to help counties tally ballot returns, Herod said.

State officials are reviewing new software for decertified voting machines, which Herod thinks will be rushed through. The only difference between the new software and old versions is the ability to count double-sided ballots, she said.

“We would have to hand-count if nothing happens,” she said. “I trust the new system, but they’ve already undermined the trust issues.”

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or cesmith@craigdailypress.com


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Craig and Moffat County make the Craig Press’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.
 

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User