County commissioners try to allay local concerns over election integrity |

County commissioners try to allay local concerns over election integrity

Official Moffat County election ballot box at the Moffat County courthouse. Photo: Amber Delay/Craig Press

After repeated appeals from concerned citizens who do not trust electronic voting machines, Moffat County commissioners have responded. 

Starting in January, a group of community members began bringing their concerns to county commissioners regarding the integrity of the electronic voting machines used in Moffat County. The group has been urging county commissioners to return to paper ballots.

“You’ve brought us a lot of information,” Commissioner Melody Villard told the group Tuesday. “There is a lot of information that’s coming to us from other sides as well, and our job is to look at both sides of the information and make a decision in the middle.”

On Tuesday, commissioners were presented a resolution that would introduce additional protocols for paper ballots and manual counting. An original resolution was presented back in April, and the resolution the commissioners heard this week was revised from the original draft.

“Our job is to look at what is our responsibility as Moffat County Commissioners for Moffat County — what’s in our circle of influence and what is totally out of our control.” — Melody Villard, Moffat County commissioner

Training for primary election judges is coming up on Friday, June 17, so the group expressed an urgency for the commissioners to take action on voting protocols now. 

Villard clarified that because the resolution was not submitted at least 24 hours prior for inclusion in the board packet, commissioners could not approve it at their Tuesday meeting.

The revised resolution, which was read to commissioners by John Williams, called upon several Colorado Revised Statutes to support moving away from the electronic ballot system.

According to state statute, county commissioners may adopt a voting system of any kind as long as it complies with Colorado law. The state requires any voting system used in Colorado to comply with the Federal Election Commission’s voting system standards. Per Colorado law, county commissioners must adopt an electronic or electromagnetic voting system to be used for tabulating votes.

According to the resolution before commissioners, there is no Colorado law requiring electronic voting systems to be used for any election function other than tabulating votes. 

Some of the concerns brought up in the resolution came from reports out of Mesa County. The same Dominion voting software is used in Moffat County, which is why commissioners were being urged to consider moving back to a paper ballot system.

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters has claimed that the Dominion voting system in Mesa County was not secure, allowing unauthorized access to voting information resulting in tampering with voting data. However, state investigations found no evidence of that and reported that errors in the 2020 election were a result of human error, not the electronic software. 

The resolution presented to the commissioners on Tuesday called for protocols to be put in place that would double check election accuracy. 

The proposed protocols would restrict the use of handheld electronic voting machines to voters with physical disabilities requiring such a device, which Commissioner Don Broom said he was in opposition to. 

“If I want to use the machine, I am going to use it,” said Broom. 

Commissioner Tony Bohrer said that according to the statute, the county is not required to use the handheld voting machines. Commissioners can discourage people from using the machines, but the county must provide the option of the electronic voting machines for anyone who wants to use one. 

“Our job is to look at what is our responsibility as Moffat County commissioners for Moffat County — what’s in our circle of influence and what is totally out of our control,” Villard said.

The resolution also proposed that in addition to using the electronic optical scanner to scan ballots and tabulate votes, the voting totals from the scanner must also be recorded on a tally sheet maintained by hand. 

For additional checks and balances, the resolution proposed each batch of ballots be hand counted and the vote tally be compared to the scanned counts. It also asked that a final hand count be performed of all votes prior to announcing election results. 

“I have no problem not using the handheld iPad machines, and just having paper ballots and running it through the tabulating machine,” Bohrer said. “I suggested in January that I felt like it was a good compromise on both sides. Neither side got exactly what it wanted, but at the same time, it’s solving the problem.”

Although commissioners could not adopt the resolution as presented and these protocols will not be implemented in the June 28 primary election, Villard proposed an alternate motion instructing the Moffat County clerk to avoid using electronic voting machines.

All of the commissioners voted in favor of this motion. The Moffat County Elections Coordinator did not respond to a request for comment.

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