- Dan Wilcock
- Glenn Frazier, owner of Magis Grocery in Peyton, says hes heard from many customers angered by long lines and a lack of ballots during last Tuesdays election.
Despite widespread anger over ballot shortages across El Paso County in last Tuesday's election, no group has stepped forward to challenge the election's legitimacy.
El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink continued to offer regrets this week for the lack of ballots in some polling places on Nov. 1. But Balink maintains that although some voters may have left the polls when faced with delays, no one was disenfranchised.
"We apologize to anyone who was terribly inconvenienced," Balink says. But, he adds, "Everybody had the opportunity to vote."
Not everyone accepts that argument.
"That's an ignorant government mistake," says Glenn Frazier, owner of Magi's Grocery, a general store in Peyton. Although he's not registered to vote in El Paso County, Frazier says he's talked to many local residents who are enraged that ballots ran out. Many Peyton voters reported having to wait three hours to vote, and Frazier estimates that around 100 people simply walked away in frustration.
Many of them, he says, want the county to "throw it all out and redo [the election]."
"This is unacceptable, for so many voters to be disenfranchised," says Jenny Flanagan, associate director of Colorado Common Cause, an election watchdog group.
Despite concerns, Flanagan says Common Cause has yet to decide whether to challenge the election results. She says concerned citizens are welcome to contact her organization.
Balink reports a 35 percent voter turnout in this year's election, compared to 28 percent two years ago. However, the clerk and recorder is refusing to disclose specifics about which and how many polling places ran out of ballots, and how many people potentially were unable to promptly cast a vote. These details will be released after a bipartisan election canvass is completed next week and the results are made official, Balink says.
The clerk and recorder says his chief mistake was overestimating the number of absentee voters and underestimating the number of election-day voters in certain polling places. That meant his staff was forced to scratch the word 'absentee' off some ballots and deliver them to polling places for use as regular ballots.
Balink, a strong proponent of touch-screen electronic voting machines, says that next year, early voting -- using the computerized machines -- will expand from three to six polling places. He adds that electronic voting is the future. "It's inevitable," he says. "It's coming."
-- Dan Wilcock