Paper ballots are top pickBy John Ingold, The Denver Post
The majority of Colorado's counties will still hold primarily paper ballot elections this year, despite the failure last week in the legislature of a plan mandating such elections.
A survey of Colorado's 64 counties reveals that at least 60 percent of the state's registered voters will have the option of casting a paper ballot at a polling place on Election Day. In at least 35 of the state's counties — representing at least 1.3 million registered voters — paper is the primary method of voting. Those counties range from the biggest, Denver, to the smallest, San Juan.
At least another nine counties will offer a hybrid system, where voters can choose to vote on either electronic voting terminals or by paper ballot.
And two of the largest counties that normally run all-electronic polling place elections — Arapahoe and Jefferson — are considering also having paper ballots.
"It offers the voter a choice," said Douglas County Clerk Jack Arrowsmith, who will offer a mix of paper and electronic voting this year after having been all-electronic in 2006. "If they'd rather not use the electronic equipment and feel more comfortable with the paper ballot, they have that option."
Which raises the question: If so many counties have already embraced paper ballots, what was the fuss over them?
Clerks, most of whom ardently opposed the paper-ballot plan, say the issue was one of scale and of solidarity.
Several of the machine-only counties are some of the state's largest, including Jefferson, Arapahoe, Weld and Mesa. Two hybrid counties — Douglas and Adams — are also sizeable.
Those counties say it was logistically and economically impossible for them to switch to all paper ballots this year.
"I think counties are trending toward having both" electronic and paper ballots, said Secretary of State Mike Coffman. "But there are some counties that aren't there, and at this late date, it would have been very difficult."
County clerks whose elections would have been largely untouched by the paper-ballot plan said they stuck by their colleagues out of a sense of clerk unity.
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