Coffman recertifies touchscreen voting machines; scanners pending
February 25, 2008
DENVER – Secretary of State Mike Coffman recertified three models of touchscreen voting machines Monday for use in this year’s elections but he hasn’t decided whether to authorize the use of two brands of optical scanners yet.Coffman said Sequoia’s Edge II and Edge II Plus, used in Arapahoe, Denver, Elbert and Pueblo counties, were certified with some restrictions along with the Election Systems and Software’s iVotronic, which is used in Jefferson and Mesa counties.The iVotronic certification, for example, includes a requirement that clerks install a piece of equipment that would be able to stop a magnet from disabling the machine, Coffman spokesman Rich Coolidge said.In December, Coffman disqualified most of the electronic voting equipment used in Colorado because of security and accuracy concerns. State lawmakers then passed a bill allowing him to retest the machines using different fixes to see if they could be used in this year’s primary and general elections.Last week, Coffman held a hearing to demonstrate the machines and the proposed fixes. On Monday he said he wanted to do more testing and consider those comments before making a decision on Hart’s eScan optical scanner and its BallotNow software. He scheduled a meeting with county clerks Tuesday at the Douglas County commissioners hearing room in Castle Rock to discuss the scanner.In a written announcement, Coffman said he was still working to schedule testing of two kinds of optical scanners made by ES&S, the M100 and M650.Because of the uncertainty of how many machines would be available for this year’s elections, legislative leaders and Gov. Bill Ritter have been working on a plan to conduct the elections mainly by paper ballot. However, the state is still required to have electronic voting equipment available for disabled people and for anyone else who asks to use it. The optical scanners are also needed to count the paper ballots.Mike Scarpello, Denver’s election director, said Monday’s decision means Denver is free to use its 240 Edge II touchscreen machines and put one at each polling place. The city’s optical scanners are made by Sequoia and were certified back in December.”We’re happy that now that we can move ahead with the plan that we’ve been contemplating for quite some time,” he said.Denver had been considering conducting a paper ballot election with polling places before lawmakers announced plans to do that statewide. Other counties had pushed for an all-mail election, saying it was the best way to avoid long lines and problems with a new statewide voter database.