Governor Ritter signed a bill Monday that will give Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman more time to retest and recertify voting machines across the state.
After two months of uncertainty and frustration, local leaders say a ray of hope has emerged to end the state's voting equipment crisis. Monday, Governor Ritter signed House Bill 1155, giving Secretary of State Coffman a thirty day window to review and recertify voting machines in Colorado.
"We're hopeful that it will work," said Mesa County Elections Director, Sheila Reiner. "We're hopeful we'll be able to prove our equipment accurate and secure, and that we'll be able to get them recertified."
Not everyone is convinced, however, that this is the final solution.
"I'm glad that the bill has moved through so quickly," said State Representative Bernie Buescher. "I am frustrated that the Secretary of State is not getting on with the job of doing that recertification."
The Secretary has come under heavy fire for de-certifying machines back in December. Many leaders say it's a decision that should have never been made.
"In the last eleven elections, those machines have functioned properly and we have had smooth, well run elections," said State Representative Steve King.
While county and state leaders hope the bill will do what it was intended to do, another battle is brewing in the state capitol. In case the Secretary is unable to certify machines in thirty days, the legislature is considering a second bill that would require the state to use all paper ballots in the 2008 election.
Mesa County officials say a move like that would not only mean re-organizing the entire election process, but it would also mean spending millions of taxpayer dollars to put that system in place.
"The all paper ballot bill would really put this county in even further hardship than it already has," said Reiner.
Whatever the solution may be, county leaders say they just hope it happens soon.
"The longer we wait for this process to be resolved, the more risk it puts on the county in order to conduct a fair, accurate, successful election," said Reiner.
Later this week, county officials will travel to Denver to meet with the Governor to voice their frustrations with a potential all paper ballot bill.
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