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October 30, 2008 — A $20,000 camera is positioned above the desk of Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Teak Simonton, watching and recording her every move as she prepares to tally Eagle County’s roughly 23,000 votes expected to be cast by the close of polls Nov. 4.
If anyone watched the recordings they would see a county clerk’s office in high gear, working hard to avoid the scandals which have already focused national media attention on Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and other parts of Colorado. Simonton has borrowed Eagle County staffers from throughout the county building to manage the immense task of tallying the vote, and the crew has been logging 12-to-14-hours a day for the past 25 days.
No one bothers to watch the tapes, however – they’re much too busy holding one of the most contentious elections in Colorado history.
Colorado has gained national media attention because of a glitch on its ballot – those who use a social security number for identification but who do not check a small box on their ballot were in danger of not having their vote count.
Not in Eagle County, Simonton said.
“It’s not an issue with us. We didn’t put anybody into an incomplete status for not completing those forms.”
Also, a list of about 400 names attached to incomplete voter registration papers were printed in the Vail Daily today, part of an effort to find out if these voters are legitimate. Eagle County Democratic leader Debbie Marquez said she’s worried that there are 150 to 190 Democrats on the list who may think they’re registered but aren’t because they filled out an invalid address on the form.
“The Clerk has done what she can … it’s really up to volunteers to take care of that,” Marquez said. “I always have a big concern where there are a lot of Hispanic names on the list.”
“None of those 400 people, if they showed up on election day, would be prohibited from voting,” Simonton said. Those voters would submit provisional ballots and the Clerks office would do the research after election day to discover if the voters have valid Eagle County addresses.
There are sensible solutions to most problems, Simonton said – but there are a few things she would like to see changed in the future.
The $20,000 camera is symbolic of one of them.
“The statewide voter registration system is pretty primitive, not very user friendly,” she said. “And the other thing that has gotten to the point of nonsensical ridiculousness is that security is over the top and it doesn’t make sense. If something provides security, great – but when it has absolutely no possible benefit…”
In many cases, Simonton is required to fill out reams of paperwork recording every detail of her actions – but the only person reviewing the paperwork is herself. There are endless examples, she said, of security procedures that make no sense.
“My office doesn’t get cleaned for six months,” she said, because janitors don’t have clearance to enter her offices.
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