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Douglas County correcting precinct number mishap

County also preparing to use new election software in the primary

Posted

Thousands of people in Douglas County were misinformed of their precinct numbers ahead of the March 6 caucuses in a mix-up the county is currently working to resolve.

Douglas County announced an error in a mass mailing sent to 7,000 voters intending to inform them their precincts changed when the county redrew boundaries last year. The mailing mistakenly told each of the recipients they were in the same precinct — precinct 339, which is in the Parker area. By law, Colorado precincts cannot exceed 2,000 voters.

A spokeswoman for the county said the mistake occurred when the vendor Douglas County uses for mass mailings was printing the letters — each was erroneously printed with the same precinct number and mailed out.

With caucuses being held on March 6, where affiliated voters gather by precinct to pick their favored candidates in an election, the county notified the parties once it learned about the mistake on Feb. 24, the spokeswoman said. New letters with the correct information hit the mail March 1. Resending the letters cost Douglas County approximately $1,000 in postage.

The county was not concerned the error would create problems for parties running caucuses, and anticipated voters would receive the new letters with their correct voting precinct before March 6.

Douglas County adjusted precinct boundaries in 2017 following a 17 percent increase in registered voters, or approximately 35,000 people. Thanks to the growth, Douglas County Clerk and Recorder Merlin Klotz said some precincts were bursting at the seams.

The county hadn't redrawn boundaries since 2015, when it bumped the number of precincts from 145 to 155. This year, there are 168 precincts.

In other election news, Douglas County will be using new election technology in this year's primary election called Clear Ballot, and in doing so is the first county in the state to officially implement the young company's product, although it was previously piloted in Adams and Gilpin Counties during the 2015 General Election.

Clear Ballot is a Boston-based company that largely broke onto the election scene in 2016. It announced in February its ClearVote system passed federal certification by the Election Assistance Commission.

Klotz said the county needed to replace its previous system, which like many across the country was years old, outdated and at the end of its lifespan.

The county's 243,000 registered voters won't notice a difference in their voting experience under the Clear Ballot system, but Klotz said it will streamline ballot processing for his office behind the scenes.

“Clear Ballot customers have reported significant improvements in speed, performance and efficiency in vote-by-mail solutions in both Oregon and Washington,” Clear Ballot CEO Larry Moore said in a county news release. “We look forward to building a lasting partnership with Douglas County focused on making elections more transparent and efficient while saving taxpayer dollars.”

The company's ClearVote 1.4.1 system is one of the two certified election systems in Colorado. The other is Dominion Voting System's Democracy Suite 5.2, which the majority of Colorado counties use.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams said Clear Ballot first needed to design its system to meet Colorado's election standards, which require a paper ballot and include digital methods to review unclear ballots.

“Clear Ballot is fairly new,” Williams said. “They have made significant strides. They have some good things they offer as well.”

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