Denver Auditor Wants To Scrap Election Commission

Voters May Get To Decide If Commission Goes

After massive Election Day problems created three-hour waits at some polling places, the city auditor on Thursday proposed replacing the three-person commission that oversees voting with an elected clerk and recorder.

Supporters of the change filed paperwork Thursday to put a proposal on the May ballot to amend the city charter, said Denis Berckefeldt, a spokesman for Auditor Dennis Gallagher.

Supporters would also need to submit petitions, but Berckefeldt wasn't sure how many signatures would be required.

"We don't think we'll have any problem gathering signatures because people are pretty angry about what happened Tuesday," Berckefeldt said.

The problems were caused by a slowdown in the Electronic Pollbook system used to check voter registration records. Election officials said they concentrated on making sure their electronic voting machines were secure and operational and didn't expect the pollbook system to bog down.

The Denver Election Commission has three members, one appointed by the mayor and two who are elected by voters. If Gallagher's proposal makes it on to the ballot, the commission potentially would oversee an election to get rid of itself.

Mayor John Hickenlooper has said he is angry over the foul-ups and will appoint a panel to investigate what went wrong.

"The whole thing, it makes my blood boil," he said. "I can't describe how frustrating it is to put (in) as much time and effort as we have and still have your worst fears (realized)."

Gallagher said, "Heads should roll." He warned city leaders last June of a pending election disaster but the warning was not acted on.

Absentee ballots from Tuesday's election were still being counted on Friday in Denver.

Tuesday's election was the first general election in which the city used 55 vote centers instead of more than 200 neighborhood precincts. The change forced more people into fewer venues and some City Council members want to scrap the vote center system.

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