Testimony of County Clerks at Annual Conference
ELECTION REFORM COMMISSION
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01:34 PM -- Testimony of County Clerks at Annual Conference
The hearing was called to order. The commission appeared before the Colorado County Clerks Association Annual Conference, held at the convention center in Pueblo, to take testimony from the county clerks. Clerk Nancy Amick, President, Colorado County Clerks Association, and county clerk for Rio Blanco County, introduced Chairman Gordon. The members of the commission introduced themselves. Senator Gordon explained the reason for the creation of the Election Reform Commission, and provided background on the commission’s mission and work. Senator Gordon also discussed how the General Assembly governs the election process, and participation by the county clerks in the legislative process.
The following persons testified before the commission:
01:41 PM -- Clerk Amick testified before the commission. Clerk Amick discussed problems associated with certifying electronic voting equipment, and future costs for the counties associated with purchasing, maintaining, and certifying electronic voting equipment. Clerk Amick urged the commission to consider cost issues as they make their recommendations to the legislature. Clerk Amick then discussed burdens experienced by county clerks in properly conducting elections, and the need for flexibility in election law to account for Colorado’s diversity among counties.
Clerk Amick responded to questions regarding the factors driving increased costs for conducting elections, and what specific flexibility is needed by clerks at the county level.
01:55 PM -- Clerk Ann Eddins, Delta County Clerk, testified before the commission. Commission members received copies of a position statement on voting system certification, prepared by the Colorado County Clerks Association (Attachment A). Clerk Eddins recited from the attachment. Clerk Eddins responded to questions regarding the potential elimination of the voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT), how an audit would be conducted if it were to be eliminated, and the merits of eliminating the VVPAT. Clerk Eddins responded to further questions regarding the counties that use voting systems without the VVPAT.
02:04 PM -- Clerk Jack Arrowsmith, Douglas County Clerk, testified before the commission. Commission members received a handout detailing election history in Douglas County from 2004 through 2008, prepared by Clerk Arrowsmith (Attachment B). Clerk Arrowsmith discussed the performance results of the recent general election, and compared these results to past elections. Clerk Arrowsmith used Attachment B as a guide for his remarks. Clerk Arrowsmith also remarked on the impact of population growth in Douglas County on conducting elections, and stressed the need for an implementation period when making changes to the election process.
02:13 PM -- Clerk Pam Anderson, Jefferson County Clerk, testified before the commission. Clerk Anderson provided an overview of Jefferson County in relation to elections, including voter participation, voting systems used by the county, and the impact of requiring a VVPAT in the future. Clerk Anderson then discussed rising costs of conducting elections in Jefferson County, the reasons for the increased costs, and the need for funding assistance to maintain current voting service levels.
Clerk Anderson continued to discuss the factors driving increased election costs, and explained the Clerks Association’s position on providing voting method choices to the voters. Clerk Anderson also discussed the Clerks Association’s views on uniformity and the Statewide Colorado Registration and Elections (SCORE) system. Discussion ensued regarding the General Assembly’s position on allowing counties to decide to use mail ballot voting, and implementing the VVPAT.
Clerk Anderson responded to questions regarding the number of voters using certain voting methods in Jefferson County, and the ability to audit certain methods. Clerk Anderson responded to further questions regarding paper audit logs that are not real-time, as is the case with the VVPAT. Discussion followed regarding the merits of adopting a system of uniformity for voting technology throughout the state.
02:41 PM -- Clerk Teak Simonton, Eagle County Clerk, testified before the commission. Clerk Simonton discussed the voting technology used in Eagle County, election audits, and experiences with conducting hand counting in elections in the county. Clerk Simonton then discussed the burdens experienced by election officials during the 2008 election, electronic voting system requirements, and the impact of offering different ballot choices in Eagle County.
Clerk Simonton discussed the need for election requirement flexibility in order to facilitate better customer service. Discussion ensued regarding which particular election requirements could benefit from statewide uniformity.
02:56 PM -- Clerk Hillary Hall, Boulder County Clerk, testified before the committee. Clerk Hall discussed the reasons for the Clerks Association taking certain positions on voting system certification and requirements, and the fiscal impact of certain voting system-related requirements. Clerk Hall responded to questions regarding the burdens of auditing elections using the VVPAT.
03:00 PM -- Ms. Liz Olson, El Paso County Elections Manager, testified before the commission. Ms. Olson discussed her experiences using different ballot counting methods. Discussion ensued regarding the efficacy of and problems with hand counting ballots.
03:06 PM -- Clerk Lawrence Gallegos, Conejos County Clerk, testified before the commission. Clerk Gallegos discussed rising costs for conducting elections in sparsely populated counties, and the potential fiscal impact of imposing additional election requirements.
03:09 PM -- Ms. Sheila Reiner, Mesa County Elections Director, testified before the commission. Ms. Reiner discussed the fiscal impact of increasing security for voting systems and at polling places, and the burdens of certain other election requirements. Ms. Reiner then discussed the need for flexibility in election auditing requirements. Ms. Reiner responded to questions regarding costs associated with precinct-specific election reporting. Ms. Amy Storm, Chief Deputy Clerk for Mesa County, provided additional input on precinct-specific election reporting.
03:16 PM -- Clerk Nancy Doty, Arapahoe County Clerk, testified before the commission. Clerk Doty discussed the voting systems used in Arapahoe County, and the county’s turnout in recent elections. Clerk Doty discussed the merits of using certain types of electronic voting systems, and expressed opposition to requiring a paper vote trail and hand counting of ballots.
03:21 PM -- Clerk Michelle Nauer, Ouray County Clerk, testified before the commission. Clerk Nauer discussed the burdens and costs associated with conducting the recent general election in lesser populated counties, and the impact of these burdens on the other duties of clerk and recorders. Clerk Nauer then discussed the need for flexibility at the county level in conducting elections.
03:28 PM -- Clerk Karen Long, Adams County Clerk, testified before the commission. Clerk Long discussed the conduct of the recent election in Adams County, and the factors that led to higher costs in conducting the election. Clerk Long also discussed the costs that would be associated with certain election requirements, if put in place in the future. Clerk Long then discussed costs specifically associated with paper ballots. Clerk Long responded to questions regarding the number of voters who used paper and mail-in ballots in Adams County during the recent election cycle, and costs associated with using electronic voting systems.
Clerk Long responded to questions regarding methods for saving money in conducting elections.
03:41 PM -- Clerk Kay Weinland, Routt County Clerk, testified before the commission. Clerk Weinland reiterated points made previously pertaining to increasing election costs, and the impact of scarce resources for conducting elections on providing choices for voters.
The commission adjourned its activities at the Clerks Association Convention.