County clerks and election staffers from across the state are in Fort Collins this week for the Colorado County Clerks Association Winter Conference. Those officials will learn best practices and get updates on new election laws. They can also get demonstration of voting machines in action from multiple vendors. But a proposed rule change by Secretary of State Wayne Williams will soon prevent counties from buying their equipment anyone other than Dominion Voting. “We believe that by working together as a state, we’re able to negotiate a better deal and we’ve actually achieved that, so far,” Williams said. “We’re in the middle of those contract negotiations but I’m optimistic it’s going to be a very good deal for taxpayers across the state.” In addition to the bulk discount, Williams said instituting a Uniform Voting System will make it easier to train election officials. It will also gives voters a more common experience at the polls. “The goal throughout this process has been to ensure the best possible experience for Colorado voters and to ensure the integrity of the process,” Williams said. There’s just one problem: the state isn’t buying the machines. That expense falls to the counties.
“I’m concerned about a monopoly in any form,” said Douglas County Clerk and Recorder Merlin Klotz. He thinks what the Secretary is doing flies in the face of state law.
“The law says the counties shall select,” Klotz said. “Well, if they’re only allowed one (vendor) to select from, that isn’t really a selection.”
Klotz said it is wrong to view the Secretary’s rule change as a form of competitive bidding since the state is not actually purchasing the equipment. In order to exclude the other vendors, the Secretary will essentially choose to only certify Dominion, despite the merits of other manufacturers.