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Town hall forum Monday will cover election issues

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If Americans cannot believe that election balloting is fair and honest, the legitimacy of our government rightly should be called into question.

After Florida's "hanging chad" controversy that altered the 2000 presidential election, as well as the massive 2004 voter disenfranchisement in Ohio that impacted another presidential race, it is incumbent upon citizens and government officials to ensure our balloting systems this year are as above-board and transparent as possible.

To help answer citizens' questions and concerns about balloting and voting processes, the Independent is hosting a town hall meeting at 2 p.m., Monday, Oct. 27, in the Carnegie Room at Penrose Library. Representatives from the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's office, which administers our elections, will answer your questions hopefully to everyone's satisfaction.

Election integrity should be a community-wide concern. That is why we are pleased that the Gazette, KRCC-FM 91.5 and KOAA Channels 5/30 are joining us to sponsor this forum, with promotional co-sponsorship from El Paso County Commission Chair Dennis Hisey (R), state Sen. John Morse (D), Colorado Springs City Councilor Jan Martin (R), Citizens Project, Common Cause, the Colorado Springs Diversity Forum and the League of Women Voters of the Pikes Peak Region.

Bob Balink, El Paso County clerk and recorder, wanted to know what questions would be asked at this forum. Since this community town hall is open to everyone, I could not predict them all. But I did share with Balink the main questions Independent readers have already raised:

1. Mail in-ballots

What should voters do:

if their name or address is misspelled on their ballot?

if they never received a mail-in ballot after they requested one?

to confirm that the clerk's office received their mail-in ballot?

2. Election Day balloting

What should voters do if:

the lines are hours long at their polling places on Nov. 4?

their precinct runs out of ballots?

their local precinct election judge claims they cannot vote because they requested a mail-in ballot, but they believe they did not do so?

3. Election integrity

Given Balink's overt partisanship, and questions about the honesty of at least one senior official in his office, what outside, independent safeguards are in place to ensure that voting machines are not tampered with and that every legitimate vote is accurately counted?

What is the role of the Canvass Board to certify this election?

We invited Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman's office to participate in this town hall, since some questions might fall outside the local clerk's jurisdiction. After initially accepting, the office said it would not send a representative, citing demands on staff time. While this concern is understandable, we have asked Coffman to reconsider, given the questions citizens continue to raise about our balloting processes.

If you're unable to attend the forum, but you have a question, please e-mail it by 10 a.m., Monday, Oct. 27, to executive editor Ralph Routon at routon@csindy.com and it will be considered.

jweiss@csindy.com

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