El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink delivered a long-awaited "autopsy" of last year's bungled election to the Board of County Commissioners last week that outlined widespread failures but offered scant detail as to where things went wrong.
The presentation, initially scheduled for last December, reported pervasive ballot shortages and mismanagement by election judges. On its last page, above a Santa Claus graphic, the report wished the commissioners "MERRY CHRISTMAS."
Activist groups that had been waiting for more than two months for a detailed accounting weren't left feeling very jolly.
"The fact that people lost their right to vote is significant," says Jenny Flanagan, associate director of Colorado Common Cause, an election watchdog group.
Balink has denied that anyone was disenfranchised in the Nov. 1 vote, contending that people who walked away from polling places with two-hour lines simply chose not to vote.
The report cited ballot shortages in 91 of El Paso County's 381 voting precincts, and voters in 70 precincts casting their votes on provisional ballots. The audit also found that judges at 11 polling places distributed incorrect ballots to voters. (Some polling places need multiple ballot styles to accommodate different voting districts.) Wrong ballots issued in Calhan botched the results in a sales tax measure there, forcing a re-vote planned for April.
Balink's report failed to offer details as to which polling places reported shortages or voters walking away. As of Monday, acting election manager Terry Sholdt had not provided these specifics.
"What we had were some accurate summaries," says Commissioner Wayne Williams. "Now I want the specifics."
Ellie Collinson, executive director of Citizens Project, says she was told for months that the information couldn't be released to the public until the commissioners had been briefed. She asks why the December report then was posted online two hours before Balink's presentation. "It should have been available in a more timely fashion," she says.
-- Dan Wilcock
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