Colorado selects uniform system for voting public
The Secretary of State’s Office chose a Denver-based company Tuesday to supply future voting machines for the state’s 64 counties, and Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner couldn’t be more pleased.
That’s because Reiner used voting machines from that company, Dominion Voting Systems, as part of a three-year pilot project to test various machines for a uniform voting system.
Having all counties use the same machines not only will allow each to get them cheaper, but also help save costs in maintenance, supplies and training time for election workers, Reiner said.
She said Dominion, more than any of the other companies that were included in the pilot study, had a product that was ready to go.
“Dominion ... was by far the most developed and appropriate system for our state,” Reiner said. “I say that because from the simplicity of building the ballot definition all the way through the risk-limiting audit that we’re going to be required to do by statute in 2017, everything just fit with Colorado laws and current needs. The other vendors are still developing things to fit our model.”
Reiner and some of her elections workers traveled to Denver a couple of times earlier this month to appear before a special panel convened by the Secretary of State’s Office that was charged with determining which company the state should use, if any.
While that eight-member committee, which primarily was made up of county clerks, was split on whether the state should designate a single company, Dominion was included in every scenario they discussed.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams made the final determination because of that, he told the clerks in a letter announcing his decision.
Williams said having one company will allow the state to negotiate better pricing, let his office provide better support to counties, and save time and money in training election workers.
Reiner said some counties may not want to make the change because they are used to the machines they already have.
“They’ll probably wait for some of the rest of us to go to them and see us have some success before they’ll trust it,” she said.
Reiner is in the process of requesting money from the county commissioners to replace her office’s aging machines, and because of the new designation will be able to get them even cheaper than she initially expected.
The company has already given her a bid of about $390,000 for what she needs, but is now waiting for a revised bid that will be lower. Still, she said even at that price, it’s a lot cheaper than she’s ever had to pay in the past.
Since taking office in 2012, and even before that when she was elections director for the county, Reiner has saved the county thousands of dollars through changes she’s implemented, such as the creation of voting centers and 24-hour drop-off boxes.
In 2004, for example, the office’s operating budget for elections was $1.9 million. Because of the advent of mail-in voting and Reiner’s other changes, elections this year only cost the county about $257,000.