Eagle Co. escapes voting machine crisis
By Melanie Wongmwong@vaildaily.comEAGLE COUNTY Eagle County is one of the few counties in the state that is not scrambling after Secretary of State Mike Coffman found that much of the states voting equipment was unsecure and unreliable.Voting machines used by more than 50 counties were decertified, meaning they did not pass a series of rigorous tests that check for security and accurate ballot counting. There are several brands and types of voting machines, but the ones Eagle County uses all passed the testing process, said County Clerk and Recorder Teak Simonton.Eagle County doesnt have any equipment that was decertified, she said. That is fortunate because it would have cost us about $300,000 if we had to replace (the machines).Under state law, all electronic voting equipment purchased after May 2004 had to be tested and certified, according to the Secretary of States office. The results of the testing, which were released Monday, deemed ballot-reading machines and electronic machines used by voters made by the companies Sequoia, Hart and ES&S to be decertified.Some of the problems included unsecured password systems that might allow unauthorized access and inaccurate counting.Some of the machines had up to a 1 percent margin of error, meaning 1 out of every 100 votes was counted wrong, Simonton said.The findings affect some of the biggest voting systems in the state, including Denver, Arapahoe, Jefferson and Boulder counties. In surrounding counties, Summit and Routt counties both have ballot machines that were decertified.Eagle County uses equipment made by Premier and Hart that passed the certification process, Simonton said.Eagle County does not use the Hart equipment that was decertified, Simonton said. Voting officials and equipment companies have 30 days to contest the secretary of states decisions, according to Coffmans office. Officials are still deciding how and if the machines can be recertified or replaced. The state legislature may also decide to allow a mail ballot election for 2008, which would require counties to only have a few certified machines instead of one at every polling site.Even though Eagle Countys machines passed the test, the county is still spending $200,000 to buy replace old ballot-reading machines for next year, Simonton said.It doesnt change the fact that were upgrading, she said. Even though they are certified, our machines are still almost 10 years old.The county will be replacing the equipment with machines from the same company, she said.Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.