Ballot question 

Touch-screen voting the only answer to last year's voting problems

Local election watchdog groups worry about a repeat of Nov. 1, 2005, when some voters in El Paso County waited for three hours to cast a ballot.

"We will never know if people left without voting, and that is the biggest concern," says Jenny Flanagan, director of Colorado Common Cause, a Denver-based group that has criticized the county's ballot bungle.

Elections manager Liz Olson claims the county will avoid last year's problems which she describes as stemming from delayed ballot delivery to some polling sites by providing a "touch-screen" box in each of the county's 186 polling locations.

The electronic voting machines were first used in August's primary election; if paper ballots run out, electors can opt to vote using the computer. Still, Olson admits that the screens will do little to alleviate the notoriously long lines on Election Day, and says the county has not changed the way it orders paper ballots.

"If people had had the opportunity to stay, they could have voted," she says of the 2005 election, when 101 of 381 precincts reported ballot shortages. There are 386 precincts this year.

Flanagan says that a better solution than the touch screens would be to stock extra ballots on Election Day.

"We have such a problem in our country of too many people not participating," she says. "When they want to, we have to be at the ready and the county needs to provide every resource that they can to make sure every vote will be cast."


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