New gear streamlines early voting

October 27, 2012
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Ballot on Demand printers have helped streamline voting in El Paso County, for citizens and the election department.

The printers crank out individualized ballots for voters, selecting the races that apply to their precincts and solving an age-old problem for the county. It’s speeding things up for early voting, which began Monday.

“They make it easier and faster to process,” county Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams said. “And they made it so there were no lines at all this week for early voting.”

That wasn’t the case in the last presidential election, Williams said.

“We didn’t want lines as long as we had in 2008,” he said. “They were snaking all through the mall, and we had two lines going out of Centennial Hall.”

People voting early at one of the four sites can request a paper ballot or a touch screen machine. Paper may make the experience faster.

“Paper ballots speed things up,” Williams said, “because the election worker prints you a ballot for your district and you go to one of the 60 or so stations to mark it. If you want a touch screen —we don’t have very many of those because they’re so expensive — you may have to wait until other people are done and one opens up. Some people want to read every word on the ballot so it takes a while sometimes. If you have a paper ballot, you don’t have to wait for anyone to finish.”

The Ballot on Demand printers also produced the 216,396 mail ballots sent out as of Friday.
Thirteen of the printers were purchased, at about $20,000 apiece, Williams said. But using the printers is a cost-saver, said Alissa Vander Veen, chief deputy and communications manager for the clerk’s office.

“We had to make the investment this year, but we had to spend $1 million in the past on printing ballots and had to throw away half of them,” Vander Veen said. “We always had to have an inventory of ballots at polling places and stacks of them for early voting sites. And depending who walks up, they might need a different ballot than the person behind them because of district races.”

Early voting sites are Citizens Service Center, 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road; Southeast Branch, southeast corner of Powers Boulevard and Airport Road; Chapel Hills Mall (north side near JC Penney); and Citadel Mall (southwest entrance).

CSC and Southeast Branch are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The two malls are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Friday is the final day for early voting sites. Polling places will be open on Election Day, Nov. 6.

Contact Bob Stephens: 636-0276 Twitter @bobgstephens
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