Fear of suit aids paper-ballot pushBy John Ingold, The Denver Post
Coffman says threats should not be the motive for state laws, but backers say their claims are not frivolous.
BOULDER — Myriah Conroy is 36 years old with dark, curly hair and a spray of freckles across her cheeks.
Most mornings, she takes her 2-year-old son to the playground so he can push toy trucks through the sandbox. And when Colorado voters go to the polls this year, she is one of the main reasons they will probably cast their ballots by paper.
"The cool thing about democracy I've learned," she said, "is that it doesn't take a lot of people to have an impact."
In 2006, the Boulder resident was the lead plaintiff in Conroy vs. Dennis, the successful lawsuit that led Secretary of State Mike Coffman last year to decertify many of the electronic voting terminals and ballot scanners used in the state for not being accurate or secure enough.
That, in turn, ultimately led state lawmakers to introduce a bill mandating a primarily paper-ballot election this year. The measure, Senate Bill 189, is up for debate in a hearing this morning.
Lawmakers backing the bill, including Gov. Bill Ritter, often talk about paper ballots as "tried and true" and the best way to restore voter trust. But what they talk less frequently about is another motive driving the bill: the worry that voting activists will sue again if the state goes back to widespread use of electronic voting terminals.
"It's a concern," said Ritter's spokesman, Evan Dreyer.
Conroy, who has worked in the computer industry, said she is not anti-technology. But, she said, electronic voting terminals are not secure or reliable enough to be trusted in an election, nor are they practical for the computer-unsavvy. She said that by leaning so heavily on machines to conduct elections, county clerks have effectively "privatized" elections.
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