West Metro Fire Rescue creates plan to handle duplicate ballots for May 6 mail-in election

LAKEWOOD, Colo. - After some voters received multiple ballots, West Metro Fire Rescue Protection District says it has created several checks to make sure people only vote once for the upcoming election.

Dennie Dorall contacted 7NEWS after receiving two ballots for the upcoming election. Her husband also received a ballot and he's not a U.S. citizen.

"If he's getting one of these ballots and he's not a registered voter, how many other people are going to be voting that aren't registered voters, and is that fair?" Dorall said.

In another case reported to 7NEWS, a minor received a ballot.

West Metro Fire Chief Don Lombardi blamed some 200 duplications on a software glitch.

"We get a voter list from the clerk and recorder from Jefferson County and then we also get [a voter list] for special districts, we get a property list from the appraiser's office. When we merged those two lists, we think that there was a data management glitch in that," Chief Lombardi said.


-- Ballot checks planned --

West Metro said it has put several checks in place to make sure duplicate ballots are not counted.

  • Each ballot is assigned a unique identification number which is associated with each voter. The District has created a list of voters that received duplicate ballots and every ballot will be logged and checked against this list. For voters that received more than one ballot, only the first ballot received by the District will be counted and any subsequent ballots submitted by that voter will be marked as "duplicate," officials said.
  • Some underage voters received ballots because they pre-registered to vote when they get their driver’s license. "We have identified and flagged all the underage individuals who received ballots," officials said. "If a ballot is received from an underage individual, the ballot will be rejected and turned over to the county’s District Attorney."
  • West Metro believes only one non-U.S. resident incorrectly received a ballot because he is a property owner. Every name/ballot will be verified against the registered voter list. If a non-U.S. citizen casts a ballot, the ballot will be rejected.

The May 6 election is a mail-in only election. Elections officials are currently checking every ballot that comes in against an updated voter registration list.

"We have two people checking those lists for each vote, so we're confident that we'll have just one vote for every ballot that's taken in," Chief Lombardi said.

Voters are being asked to elect four Board of Director positions. They're also voting on whether to raise the district's property tax by three mills, which is about $2 per month for each $100,000 of property value of a home. This equals to about $24 a year per household, according to the fire district's website: http://ch7ne.ws/1fgqLuR

West Metro Fire said the current fixed mill levy is 12.382. The increase of 3 mills would raise about $8.6 million a year, officials said.

The district said the additional tax revenue would help maintain the fire agency's quick response times in keeping with nationally accredited standards and maintain and improve wildland firefighting, hazardous materials response, swift-water flood rescue, and technical, rock-climbing rescue. It would also ensure the district has highly trained emergency medical staff, including fully cross-trained firefighters and paramedics.

West Metro provides fire and rescue serves Lakewood and Morrison and parts of Golden, Wheat Ridge, unincorporated Littleton, unincorporated Jefferson County, the Roxborough communities and Waterton Canyon.

The Secretary of State doesn't have oversight over this election, but spokesman Andrew Cole offered this statement about ballot policies:

"Only registered voters should receive ballots. Under state law, this means that they must be 18 years or older, a resident, and a U.S. citizen. Best practices for election administration should keep ineligible people from receiving ballots as well as eligible voters receiving duplicate ballots."

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