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County to improve voting procedures

Summit Daily file photo/Reid Williams Election judge Viola Shaw, left, collects an early voting ballot from Blue River resident Faren Harris in this Oct. 27, 2004, file photo. Summit County Clerk and Recorder Cheri Brunvand is streamlining behind-the-scenes election procedures in hopes of shortening the long hours election judges can often work on voting days.
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SUMMIT COUNTY – It may only be February, but elections are already on Summit County Clerk and Recorder Cheri Brunvand’s mind.After a lengthy wait on election night in November for the results, Brunvand is looking into ways to improve the election process. During the last election, Summit was one of the last counties to send in its vote tallies, holding up statewide and multi-county races.Brunvand said the county is looking at combining some precincts this year to pare the number down. She said the county will also continue the two-week early voting period.The county will also have “road runners” for the next election. The runners will pick up the ballots immediately after the polls have closed. The voting booths and other non-essential items will remain until the next morning.

“We’re trying to take some of the burden off the judges. They’re tired after working such a long day,” Brunvand said. “I think it’s going to increase morale with the judges.”County Commissioner Bill Wallace said he thinks Brunvand’s new organizational tactics will definitely improve the pace of election returns.”I look forward to seeing her proposals,” Wallace said. “This year we won’t have the same absentee and early turnout as the presidential, so there won’t be those same issues.”Brunvand also intends to ask for new voting machines and materials but not until standards for equipment are set at the federal level and approved by the state.”We should have been able to buy the equipment in January 2006, but it doesn’t look that way now,” Brunvand said. “If the standards aren’t set, we can’t get the equipment.”

Wallace said he thinks it may be problematic if the county has electronic voting machines with no paper trail.The voting machines can cost approximately $5,500 per unit, but vendor prices haven’t yet been set for new machines.An option in the future for the county is voting centers, which would do away with precincts and would allow voters to cast their ballots at the nearest voting center. Voter information would be linked up through computers to ensure that each person only votes once.”It’s not going to work in Summit County right now because of (computer) connectivity issues and having all of the computers up and running,” Brunvand said.



She visited Larimer County to investigate the concept of voting centers.Brunvand pointed out that if the centers were in place, someone could live in Frisco but vote in Breckenridge for convenience.”We’re not doing it this year, but we’re definitely looking at doing it in the future,” Brunvand said. “It just makes more sense. It’s the wave of the future.”Jennifer Huffman can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 248, or at jhuffman@summitdaily.com.


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