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Computer problems plague early voting
Denver Post, November 7, 2006  By George Merritt, Staff Writer

Election day in Denver began with long lines, as computer problems appeared to make it difficult for workers at vote centers to check registrations against the master list.

By 8 a.m., lines stretched up to a city block at places like the Colorado Convention Center, Corona Presbyterian Church and Denver Botanic Gardens.

At the Convention Center, though 100 people stood in line, only 25 percent of the voting machines were in use at any given time, as poll workers tried to get verification of voter registration from computers that were frequently down.

Dejected downtown workers attempting to vote before work could be seen walking away from the polls as the line barely moved.

Denver's first general election under the vote-center model got off to a frustrating start today as would-be voters lined up by the hundreds.

Voting officials said computer problems at the voter check in stations became a bottleneck in the first hour of voting as a rush to the polls overloaded the system.

Shortly after 8 a.m., election judges reported better service and lines began moving.

Mark Coles, a computer technician with the Denver Election Commission, said the election system had to be split onto three separate servers to handle the backlog.

"It's just like traffic on (Interstate) 25," Coles said. "It's as if we are building two more I-25s right next to it" to ease the traffic congestion.

But the fix did not come in time to help some voters who hoped to vote before heading to work.

At Denver Botanic Gardens, more than 200 voters backed up in a line that stretched out of the gates and down the block more than half way to 11th Avenue.

"We will not get to vote today," said a frustrated Lauren Brockman as he left the Botanic Gardens.

He lined up at 6:45 a.m. hoping to beat the rush, only to stand in line for close to an hour before leaving.

But an hour wait was short, compared to some.

At Corona Presbyterian Church, voters were being told to expect about a two-hour wait as they snaked around the building.

"All my friends, I told them to vote between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.," said Rob Weil the election judge supervisor at Corona. "But if it keeps being this slow, this line will stay."

Several people left the line at Park Hill Methodist Church after they were told equipment was broken. But shortly after that, the line was moving again.

Despite the early trouble, election commission spokesman Alton Dillard said lines were running smoothly by 9 a.m.

"Everything is back up and running," he said. "If a voter goes somewhere with a long line, all they have to do is check in with an election official and see where there is a vote center with less traffic."

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