Tuesday, January 23, 2007

So, You Want To Vote in Denver -- Good Luck!

Ruminating now on the Denver Election Commission's Keystone Kop performances, backed up by the stalwart scurrility Sequoia Voting Systems has inflicted on the citizens of Denver (aided, certainly, obviously by the woo-hoo collaboration of the DEC), it has become expected that yet another effort to disenfranchise Denver's electorate, or a goodly portion thereof, is inevitable. Could we expect anything else?

Dare I provide the litany: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Seems the DEC may have disenfranchised about 17,600 of Denver's citizens for this coming January 30th "Special Election," that will decide the fate of the Denver Election Commission itself... the single ballot question asking whether or not to disband the Denver Election Commission and establish an elected Clerk and Recorder who would then hire a Director of Elections.

Please recall that it is estimated that 18,000 of Denver's citizens were disenfranchised during the most recent General Election on November 7th, 2006, due to the DEC's bungling and reliance upon Sequoia Voting Systems (the above links provide the whole sordid tale).

Reports today from the Rocky Mountain News and Colorado Confidential, explain that --here we go again--the DEC relied upon Sequoia Voting Systems to prepare ballots and envelopes for the January 30th election (an all-mail election). Problem is , the DEC didn't update voter addresses by cross-checking current voter lists with the National Change of Address database, as suggested by the United States Post Office, before mailing the Sequoia produced packets to voters. The consequence: 17,600 ballots were returned to the post office an undeliverable as addressed. Further, the return envelope produced by Sequoia was identified by the US Post Office as "non-compliant" and could not be read by the Post Office's automated machines, thus requiring hand-sorting by postal employees, costing the taxpayers of Denver at least $22,500.00.

US Post Office district manager, Dean Granholm advised that nine teleconferences were held to assist county election offices with mail ballot procedures, none of which saw the participation of the Denver Election Commission. Additionally, Granholm said, "Unfortunately, Denver City and County did not provide communication needed to achieve success [with the all-mail ballot]. They did not send any information regarding the date of the election, volume of the mailing, the design of the absentee ballot envelopes, the final packet, or the actual date of mailing until it was too late to make any needed changes."

The DEC's response: Alton Dillard, DEC's spokesman, was quoted in the News as saying the DEC "...is aware of the letter [from Granholm] and will meet with USPS [United States Postal Service] officials when time allows. These are the kinds of issues that can occur when turning around an election in three weeks." Do the word "smug," come to mind, ya'll? "When time allows..." Give me a fuckin break!

"Man who trip over same stone twice, deserve to break neck."

I had reservations about abolishing the DEC via the January 30th "Special Election." No reservations now, bro.


hubs said...

so you'll be voting yes?

George said...

Hey, Hubs...

In spite of the DEC's efforts to, apparently, make it as hard as possible for folks to exercise their franchise, yes, I'll be voting. My ballot is marked, and I'll be dropping it off at the Berkeley (Scheitler Rec Center) location. Now, whether it's counted or not by DEC/Sequoia...that's another thing altogether.

hubs said...

i guess what i'm asking is: is your ballot marked yes or no (i haven't read the measure yet)?

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

No always means the status quo in Colorado, one of the better features of our electoral system.

George said...

Hubs, Andrew's observation is illustrative--in most cases--of the "Colorado Reality." I'm sure there are exceptions to Andrew's observation, as the word "always" is a categorical qualifier. Given that, a no vote on the DEC issue would leave things pretty much as they are today, which, as we know, ain't workin'. I was an unenthusiastic supporter of a "no" vote on this issue prior to the last embroglio perpetuated by what appears to be institutionalized incompetency at the DEC. So, I changed my mind. The status quo is no longer acceptable. Assuming that an elected Clerk and Recorder would diligently serve the citizens of Denver (& not simply be another elected office providing a stepping stone to the Mayor's chair) and provide elections unencumbered by the sins of commission/omission we've seen from this current group of bunglers and fumblers; assuming all of this, yes, a radical restructuring is necessary.

Anonymous said...

keep in mind that by voting "yes" you are voting to move all DEC employees into the Career Service Authority. This is okay if you believe that the CSA will ensure top-notch qualified employees. This is not okay if you believe that the CSA status will only make it all the more difficult to remove the bad apples. The details are in the fine print of the language.

Please vote "no"

George said...

Ahem, Anon: This fear of placing DEC employees under the Career Service umbrella is a bugaboo engendered by the Hickenlooper prejudice that categorizes the city's bureauocracy as genetically closer to slugs than curs--(a cur will, after all, lick your face if handed a treat). After more than twenty years as a public servant within the, at times, onerous clutch of the City and County of Denver, I can report that--contrary to the Hick's conclusions--city employees under the Career Service umbrella serve honorably and most generally in the best interests of the City and County of Denver. If you're suggesting that the current crew at the DEC is somehow more efficient, more dedicated, more able to roll with the inevitable punches of public service than those under the Career Service unbrella, you're perception is skewed and, like Hick, quite prejudiced. CSA works, albeit slowly, in some case. But, it does work.

Anonymous said...

Ahem, hmmmm.... You've given me more to ponder. I still haven't turned in my ballot. I hope every voter studies this ballot question thoroughly. Possibly changing the structure of governance deserves much debate and thought. I do believe our DEC problems are a function of management incompetence NOT structure. Will a change of the structure improve things even though that isn't what our problem was? Much to consider. Will the change create a whole new set of problems? Much to consider.

Love your blog. Thanks for taking the time to post items and for keeping us informed.

Da Momster said...

George: I finally decided to post a blog - after I read that the Sequoia people actually admitted that the mailing was done to the wrong addresses. Imagine my surprise when my ballot showed up at my residence. For years it went to the PO Box. In addition, the little window where the name and address were supposed to go, only had my ballot envelope showing, my name had been imprinted on the outside of the envelope - Telling me that the "contracted firm" who did the mailing either used the wrong list or???? If the wrong list was used, residential address instead of mailing address, it would not be the first time that the "downloaded file" from the DEC was incomplete or in the wrong format.

Can't wait for that honorable public servant Dennis Gallagher to run for City Clerk.