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New way to vote on Tuesday
By RICHARD VALENTY Colorado Daily Staff Writer   05 August 2004

The Aug. 10 party primary elections might not draw the full suspense and passion that the Nov. 2 general election will generate, but the Democratic and Republican tilts for the party's U.S. Senate nomination will be of national interest, and the overall race for Boulder County Commissioner District 1 could be all but formally decided Tuesday night.

Also, Boulder County will be using its new voting system, "BallotNow" by vendor Hart InterCivic, for the first time in this election. The Hart system replaces the old punch-card system, the Sequoia "Datavote," that was in use for 28 years and was last used in 2002.

For residents that voted in 2002, using the Hart system should not require retraining. Voters will simply take the ballot to the voting booth, fill in the ballot using an ink pen that will be provided at the precinct, put the ballot in a security envelope and the envelope in the precinct ballot box.

The accuracy and integrity of voting systems has been a subject of ever-growing national discussion since the Florida presidential tally in 2000, even though the actions of the state and federal Supreme Courts, the style of the Florida "butterfly ballot" and the names of Florida residents alleged to be felons erased from the voter rolls could be seen as having as much or more to do with the controversy as the Florida punch-card voting systems.

Still, the 2004 elections are likely to be inspected more closely by concerned citizens locally and nationwide for possible mistakes or even outright fraud than any election in recent history.

Could there be "hanging chads" in Boulder County in 2004? Not exactly, since voters will be asked to fill in rectangles to the left of the name of the candidate using an ink pen.

County voters can help prevent questionable votes by simply going to the voting booth Tuesday with a certain sense of patience. Most voters will be voting on no more than three races in the primary, so there will be time to slowly and carefully fill in the rectangle while, at the same time, avoiding making markings outside of the rectangle.

Should a voter destroy a ballot Tuesday with an unintentional mark or by accidentally ripping the paper, the voter can ask for up to two new blank replacement ballots at the precinct.

If an unintentional (or intentional) mark makes the Boulder County scanners "read" the ballot as being cast for more than one candidate, election judges will view a projected digital image of the ballot and confer to determine voter intent. If judges determine that two rectangles are clearly marked in a race where only one candidate can be accepted, the vote for that race will be deemed an "overvote" and be disqualified.

Images of sample ballots can be found on the county Web site at www.co.boulder.co.us/clerk/elections/ should a voter wish to practice.

Also, 2004 voters will be asked for identification before they are given a ballot. Yes, a driver's license will work, and if a voter is DRIVING to the polls, it might be a good idea to carry a license anyway.

According to a Boulder County press release, election officials can also accept a Colorado Department of Revenue I.D. card, a current U.S. passport, a federal/state/local government/Colorado political subdivision picture I.D., an FAA pilot's license or a U.S. military picture I.D.

Also, officials can accept a current (no more than 90 days old) copy of a utility bill, bank statement, government document with name and address, Medicare or Medicaid card, certified birth certificate or document of naturalization.

For further information, call the Boulder County Elections division at (303) 413-7740.

In short, fill in the box carefully, bring an I.D., and vote on Tuesday as if it matters by whom you're governed.

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