Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder Nancy Doty has been among the staunchest supporters of direct-recording electronic — or DRE — voting machines. …
This item is available in full to subscribers.
If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.
Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.
If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.
Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder Nancy Doty has been among the
staunchest supporters of direct-recording electronic — or DRE —
The computerized machines have been controversial. In 2006, a
lawsuit successfully challenged DREs' reliability and
susceptibility to fraud. Denver District Judge Lawrence Manzanares
called then-Secretary of State Gigi Dennis' certification process
for DREs "abysmal" and ordered 11 pages of new security
Now state legislators have introduced a bill that would
phase-out DREs entirely by 2014 and move Colorado toward an
all-paper election system.
House Bill 1335 is the result of a recommendation made this year
by the state’s Election Reform Commission. The body recommended
that the state require all counties to switch to all-paper voting
within five years.
The bill would also temporarily recertify existing DREs in
Colorado. The previous certification had been set to expire this
summer. If the bill passes in its current form, as counties needed
to replace their DREs, they would need to do so with paper-ballot
systems to receive required certification from the Colorado
Secretary of State. All DREs would have to be phased out by
Colorado Community Newspapers recently spoke with Doty to get
CCN: You objected to legislators placing the changeover to paper
ballots and the temporary recertification of the DRE electronic
voting machines in the same bill.
Doty: They get us to go along with the certification, and at the
same time we have to go along with the paper ballots. I don’t like
it because it’s going to require us to switch to a paper-ballot
based voting system whenever we have to switch out our
CCN: You completely stand by your DREs?
Doty: Yes, that lawsuit was all regarding security of the
equipment. It had nothing to do about the accuracy of the
CCN: Security should be a concern in running elections, though,
Doty: Yeah, but that has all been addressed.
CCN: Have you in the course of all this ever had a reason to
reconsider your support for DREs?
Doty: No, I believe they’re accurate. There’s not one instance
that I know of where a voting machine has been tapped into on
When these guys talk about compromising our election, they’re
doing it in a vacuum. They’re not considering the entire election
process. You need to consider that we have seals all over these
machines. There are four poll workers at each polling site — two
different parties that are watching the polling process. They
wouldn’t allow someone to come in and manipulate the machines. We
have video cameras so we watch everything that goes on.
We’ve never had someone who tried to do it — never.
CCN: Some are concerned that these machines could be manipulated
in the event of lax security. Is it possible that not all county
clerks in Colorado are as careful about security as you have been
in Arapahoe County?
Doty: We all operate under the same laws and rules. They do the
same thing, and you have to submit your election plan to the
secretary of state’s office and you outline all of those
CCN: Which method do you think is more susceptible to
malfeasance, DREs or paper ballots?
Doty: Paper, absolutely. You lose paper ballots. It’s been done.
You could have people marking them differently. Let’s say there’s a
race for president. You didn’t like how that person voted. You can
draw another line there and have an over-vote and it doesn’t count
CCN: But as you say, clerks would have both a Democrat and a
Republican overseeing the process.
Doty: It doesn’t happen because we have a Democrat and a
Republican on teams that are involved with every single step of the
process. My question is, why are we trying to fix something that
Another point is our election costs are going to go up
exponentially because paper ballots are expensive to print and it
takes longer to process. There are many more steps involved. Our
DREs can handle an infinite number of voters — infinite isn’t quite
the number, but a lot of voters.
Thousands and thousands of those blank ballots get destroyed
after Election Day because they weren’t needed. I don’t know how
many people are going to show up on Election Day.
And then early voting is another issue. I have eight
early-voting locations in my county. I have 340,000 voters. I have
to plan for those voters going to any one of those eight locations
and vote early. Think of the number of paper ballots I have to have
if I can’t use my DREs.
CCN: Can you wage a guess about how much more expensive you
think it would be to use paper ballots?
Doty: I’m going to say a million more dollars per election. I
can give you a very good cost comparison. Arapahoe County’s general
election in ’08 cost $1.3 million. Denver County has about the same
number of voters that we do. They use paper and theirs cost $2.7
CCN: Are there other variables between the two systems?
Doty: That’s the main difference that I’m aware of.
CCN: Are there any upsides to going paper?
Doty: (laughs) I’d be open to hearing about them. I don’t see
one. Think of all the thousands of trees that are going to be
Other items that may interest you
We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.