ELN: Montrose voting goes smoothly

Polling places across Montrose County handled voters smoothly Tuesday with none of the long lines and security violations that plagued the county two years ago.

The county earned the dubious distinction of “worst in the state” from Secretary of State Mike Coffman for its election in 2006. Montrose was one of four counties put on an election watch list by Coffman.

Montrose County Clerk Fran Long implemented several improvements to the county’s election system, which got the county removed from the watch list. Long said she hopes a successful election keeps the county in good stead.

“Things stayed incredibly busy,” Long said Tuesday. “We can’t stay off the phone, with people calling to verify their mail-in ballots or wondering where their polling place is, but there have been no problems.”

Lines at polling places formed around 6:30 a.m., Long said, but voters were moved through quickly, thanks to a system that allowed voters to choose between an electronic or paper ballot. Lines formed again around 5:30 p.m.  but shortened quickly, she said.

Election worker Easton Dunn said lines were never more than two or three people at the Montrose Pavilion.

The biggest problem Dunn encountered was a woman being sent to the courthouse to verify her voting status because he had a problem with the list of last names starting with the letter M. Also, many voters did not know their precincts.

“But overall, it’s been very smooth,” Dunn said.

As of Monday night, Long said, 72 percent of registered voters in Montrose County had cast their ballot by mail-in ballot or early voting.

A report issued by the secretary of state’s office in 2006 cited several violations of security procedures in Montrose County, including unsealed voting machine tapes, mismatched signatures on voter signature cards and mislabeled election results.

Long implemented tighter security measures for voting records and increased the amount of training that election workers received.

“Having more than a month and a half of training has helped,” she said. “Many of our judges have worked elections before now and are veterans.”

Madaline Lake, an election judge at the Montrose Library District polling place, said she was trained intensively on polling place setup through a series of scenarios.

“Election day mock ups, basically,” she said.

The opening line was about 15 people deep, Lake said, but the steady voter traffic was handled efficiently all day with “no big crush.” Many people voted around lunch time, she said, a typically busy time for voting.

Lake said she did not work as a judge in 2006 but had worked previous elections.

“I guess the difference is night and day,” she said of this election compared to 2006.


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