Friday, November 13, 2015

Ballot inspections a big-ticket project

Posted By on Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 6:35 PM

The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition has published a blog post regarding the cost of inspecting ballots.

From the post:
[S]ome counties are making it prohibitively expensive for at least one election watchdog to obtain the records he says are needed to independently audit the accuracy of voting systems.

Election integrity activist Harvie Branscomb made Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) requests of eight counties for ballot records from the Nov. 3 election. As indicated by email threads posted on his blog, Douglas County wanted an upfront deposit of $4,000 to examine about 88,000 ballot scans for marks that could identify individual voters and then redact any such marks from the copies.

Mesa County quoted Branscomb $1,500 to similarly process about 29,000 ballot scans before releasing them, and Garfield County wanted $990 for about 11,000 scans. Jefferson County asked for advance payment of $12,475 to review and redact about 185,000 ballot scans.
That made us wonder if there's a similar story in El Paso County. Clerk and Recorder spokesman Ryan Parsell says the office hasn't received such requests for many years, but as a general rule, the Clerk and Recorder's Office doesn't charge for CORA requests. He also says the county's system differs from others in that there's no need to remove anything from the ballot. That's because there are no markings that enable a ballot to be traced back to the individual who voted it.

Parsell says several counties, including those named in the CFOIC blog post, are testing systems that might be certified for future elections. It's unlikely any of those systems will be required for the 2016 presidential election, because replacement costs are so high that most counties couldn't afford them. For example, El Paso County's price would be about $4 million, he says. Counties are hoping that when certain equipment is specified for use in future elections, the state will chip in to cover the cost.

Meantime, the vote canvas for the November 3 election will be completed Monday. Military ballots from overseas were due Thursday, and not many had been received. That could mean the outcome of the Manitou Springs mayoral race, which was decided by just a handful of votes, won't change, although Parsell won't comment on election results at this time.

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