Sunday, January 13, 2008

Coffman: 'I created a lot of confusion'
By Myung Oak Kim, Rocky Mountain News (Contact)
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Secretary of State Mike Coffman said Wednesday that he has created some confusion in the aftermath of his announcement that thousands of electronic voting machines could not be used in 2008.

Coffman announced on Dec. 17 that electronic voting systems used in all but 12 counties were too flawed for use in upcoming elections. Since then, he has made a number of statements that have raised more questions.

On Dec. 18, Coffman told lawmakers that much of the decertified equipment could be approved if manufacturers made improvements and the state passed laws to allow him to quickly approve those changes.

A week later, Coffman said paper ballots cast at precincts are more reliable than electronic or mail voting.

And then he told Denver Clerk Stephanie O'Malley that he would likely reverse his decision and approve her equipment if she filed an appeal.

On Wednesday, Coffman said it was a mistake to announce his preference for paper voting so quickly after his certification decision.

"I think I created a lot of confusion, and in hindsight that wasn't a good thing to do," he said.

He also expressed regret about his discussion with O'Malley. He said he jumped the gun when he said he could reverse his decision to decertify Denver's voting machines based on new information from the vendor.

He said the attorney general's office told him he must follow an appeals process that includes a public hearing and that he can't say now what his decision would be on an appeal.

"I was in error in thinking I could (reapprove equipment) without going through the reconsideration process," Coffman said. "It would be better to stick with the formal process."

Coffman acknowledged that he faces a problem restoring voter confidence if the electronic systems he decertified later get approved.

"(If) we can fix them, then I certainly need to relay that to the public - that the specific issues that I raised on Dec. 17 have been resolved," Coffman said.

He said that he has always felt the problems with machines could be corrected without compromising standards of accuracy and reliability.

Coffman said he hasn't clearly conveyed that electronic voting equipment still must be used even in paper elections. That's because federal law requires that disabled voters be permitted to vote, and using electronic equipment is the only way many can do that.

So even if counties only use electronic machines for the disabled, they still need to have the machines certified by his office, Coffman said.

"You can't say let's just meet the federal requirements with defective machines."

Coffman said his office is currently testing decertified equipment with software changes and other improvements, and that counties can use the results of those tests in their appeals. Counties and vendors have a week to file appeals - formally known as requests for reconsideration.

He'll discuss the issue at a legislative committee hearing today.

Meanwhile, criticism of Coffman is mounting.

Jenny Flanagan, executive director of Colorado Common Cause, a government watchdog group, called Coffman's "tipping of his hand" to O'Malley "frustrating."

"It seems very unclear as to what the position of the Secretary of State's Office is," she said.

Rep. David Balmer, R-Centennial, and Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon, D-Denver, are co-chairing a legislative panel that is looking for ways to help election officials deal with the current chaos.

Balmer will sponsor the legislation that Coffman wants to streamline the certification process. He hopes to introduce that bill by Friday.


Coffman Takes Heat For Mass Decertification
Visit The Politics Section
By George Merritt, AP Writer
DENVER (AP) ― Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman has begun backing off his landmark decision to decertify most of the state's electronic voting machines, and his authority is under fire...

Tuesday's setbacks for Coffman followed difficulties he has encountered since announcing Dec. 17 that equipment made by three of the four election vendors used in the state did not pass muster. Coolidge said state laws and a court-ordered mandate to review election equipment left the secretary with little choice.

"He reviewed the testing processes, the results from the testing board, met with the attorney general's office and came to the conclusions ultimately leading to the certifications of some and the decertification of others," Coolidge said.

Just days after Coffman's announcement, local election officials pointed to a possible conflict of interest with Coffman and vendor Premier Election Solutions, formerly Diebold -- the one vendor unscathed by Coffman's report. Sean Tonner, who is running Coffman's campaign to replace U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo in the 6th Congressional District, is also president of the consulting firm Phase Line Strategies, which lobbies for Premier.

Both Coffman and Phase Line officials have denied any conflict. States such as Ohio have found critical flaws in Premier systems.

Election officials in the several counties that use the decertified machines have questioned the problems cited in Coffman's report. Jefferson County, the second most populous county in the state with 530,000 people, were unable to find the fatal flaw in their Election Systems & Software equipment...

Coffman changes tune on voting machines
Denver's clerk says she was told he might recertify the voting system after an appeal.
By Christopher N. Osher
The Denver Post
Article Last Updated: 01/09/2008 01:02:02 PM MST

Legislators lose their confidence in Coffman
The Daily Sentinel
Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A plot is afoot to remove Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman from the vote-machine certification process...

...Mesa County’s vote machines, and those of most other Colorado counties, were decertified late last year by the Secretary of State’s Office. The rush is now on to figure out a way to have an election, beginning with the primaries in August.

Mesa County uses machines by a company called ES&S. They were decertified despite being used successfully in the past.

“We have had 15 successful elections with this equipment,” Rich said...


CO: Secretary of State Decertifies Numerous E-Voting Machines

December 18th, 2007

CO: Editorial - Well, will they work or not? Confusion over certification of voting machines leaves our heads spinning - and wondering about Coffman's leadership

CO: Voting machine snafu resolution possible

CO: Coffman Wants More Time, Flexibility To Fix Voting Machines

CO: Larimer County - Clerk urges all mail-in ballot
Larimer County official hopes Legislature will pass election fix

CO: Pueblo County - County voting machines likely to be recertified

Voting Machines For Major Counties Decertified
Machines Have Problems With Security, Accuracy, Secretary Of State Says
POSTED: 3:07 pm MST December 17, 2007
UPDATED: 6:59 am MST December 18, 2007


State Decertifies Electronic Voting Machines
Counties Seek Solution Before 2008 General Election
By Christopher Pike
Monday, January 7, 2008 1:27 PM MST

Mail-in, all-paper elections options for 2008

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