Boulder County can't seem to figure out how to run an election. Previously
, in response to federal laws passed in the wake of the 2000 Presidential election fiasco, the county replaced its existing, functional punch card system for an optical scan system, at a cost of $1.4 million. The result was a system that produced vote totals long after the election results were announced.
Obviously not wanting a repeat, the county is looking at options. The new federal law demands handicap accessibility, which apparently isn't provided by the new system we just bought. So, the county is on the hunt for something better.
The first idea was to purchase another new system, with a price tag of $2.6 million. This brought predictable and justified cries from the public, especially since the new system likely wouldn't have even provided a method to perform a paper recount. So, the next alternative is to rent the equipment for a year and give the market a chance to settle down, the federal laws a chance to clear up, and perhaps allow the public to forget their concerns. The price tag for a one year rental: $1.7 million, and the only company willing to do this is the same company that sold us our last lemon.
Why are we doing this? Because if we don't voters with disabilities may sue the county.
I have another idea. Let's work with the disabled community and see what they want. I'd be willing to bet that we could provide a good accessible voting environment for much less than $1.7 million. Keep it up for a year or two or three, and perhaps a good voting system will be available.
There are about 200 voting locations in Boulder County. Let's hire someone to be on location at each one of them for the entire election day. Could we do that, plus purchase some other needed accessibility improvement for, say, $1000 per polling place? That would be $200,000 total per election.
Maybe it'd be more. I don't know. But maybe not. I'd have to be off by almost a factor of 10 in order to justify wasting our money on rental of equipment that we will only be using once.
Start by having our election officials meet with the leaders of the local disabled community. Find out what would make a good voting environment. And then start spending our election money on something that we can feel good about. I'd be willing to guess that voters with disabilities would not be anxious to sue us if we were obviously going out of our way to work with them and make it easier for them to vote, clearly in the spirit of the Help America Vote Act.
Labels: Boulder, voting