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Denver suffering glitches, long lines, frustrated voters

Democrats ask for extended hours but judge denies request. Voting officials hope they have ramped up enough to handle the evening rush.
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Written by Richard Koman on

In Denver, voters are experiencing major backups in voting due to computer glitches and an inadequate number of laptops to check voter registration. Democrats had asked a judge to extend polling hours in the city's voting centers, but she declined, saying she doesn't have authority to do so, The Rocky Mountain News reports.

Republicans said there was no need for an extension because, "The statute is clear. If you come to the polls at 7 p.m. and wait you will be able to vote."

At 1 pm, Denver election officials rebooted the whole computer system in hopes of keeping the servers from crashing throughout the afternoon. At about 2 p.m., election officials sent 30 more laptop computers to some of the most heavily used polling centers. By 3 p.m., election officials had sworn in 85 to 100 new election judges.

Alton Dillard, communications director for the Denver Election Commission, acknowledged there has been "a slowness issue." "With 55 vote centers, we have probably more than 220-230 laptops in circulation. So that’s what caused the delay. What happens, anytime you have any issue . . . whether it’s a power issue or whether it’s a slowness issue, our judges are trained to pick up the telephone and call up to central registration and that’s how you confirm the voter’s eligibility. So it does take a little longer to do it by phone."

Denver switched from the traditional precinct system to a voting center system, in which Denver voters could show up at any polling place in the city. Thus, voter registration lists could not be printed since every center has to have access to the entire roll. And so people waited for their time in front of a laptop.

"It's going to get worse. We're worried about the 5 o'clock rush hour," said Meghan Doughtery, spokesperson for Fair Vote Colorado, a nonpartisan organization which monitors elections in the state.
Dillard realizes the evening rush hour will be a trial but hopes that most of the problems were ironed out this morning.
"We got the morning rush and it took a while for us to digest that, and because of the 60-65 percent turnout, we expect it to be heavy all day. We are asking for patience from the voters, from the parties and candidates when it comes to getting all this tallied up tonight," he said.

"With this being our first general, we’ll take a look at what needs to be tweaked. We’ll look at what we need to do to make changes.’’

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