Voter turnout 38%; '08 voting machine issues loom

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By AJ Vicens

Fewer than 40 percent of Jefferson County voters participated in the Nov. 6 mail elections, according to Jeffco Clerk and Recorder Pam Anderson.

“We had a pretty low turnout this year — it was about 38 percent,” Anderson said. “I think the thinking behind low turnout is that there were no statewide issues driving out the vote this year, which is unusual — not to have a statewide issue.”

Anderson hadn’t broken down what issues were voted on more than others as of late Friday afternoon, but guessed that Lakewood had a mayor and city council race that seemed to have a higher turnout.

There were no major glitches in the counting of the ballots, Anderson said, noting that there were about 1,300 duplicate ballots — where people select more than one name or issue.

Anderson said her office is trying to gear up for next year’s major election, which will include the presidential race and numerous high-profile national and state races. She’s in a holding pattern, though, because of issues with voting machines being certified to federal standards.

“We’re sort of in the middle, waiting to see how it goes,” Anderson said, referring to voting machine vendors and state and federal governments trying to figure out certification standards and qualifications. She said the Colorado County Clerks Association expressed “concern in delays in certification” to the state legislature’s Joint Budget Committee on Nov. 8.

Anderson said funds are targeted in next year’s budget for dealing with certification requirements, but her office is hesitant to spend “$1.7 million on something that we won’t be able to use.”

Whatever happens, Anderson wants to be ready, considering that 90 percent of Jeffco voters turned out in the 2004 elections.

“We’re expecting a very, very large turnout next year,” Anderson said.

Contact A.J. Vicens at: aj@evergreenco.com.