Chieftain uncritically reported Dennis' assertions regarding voting machine certification, ignored judge's ruling that those machines were not properly certified

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

The Pueblo Chieftain reported that outgoing Colorado Secretary of State Gigi Dennis saw her "office through the process of certifying" new equipment to comply with federal requirements but did not report that a Denver district judge ruled Dennis failed to properly certify the voting machines used during the November 7 election.

In a November 18 article by Margie Wood, The Pueblo Chieftain reported that outgoing Colorado Secretary of State Gigi Dennis, in her efforts to comply with the requirements of the Help America Vote Act, saw her "office through the process of certifying all that new equipment -- developing about 400 different tests to check every component of the equipment and process." However, the Chieftain failed to report that, according to a Denver district judge's September ruling, Dennis' office failed to properly certify the voting machines used during the November 7 election.

The Chieftain also noted that, regarding the lengthy delays many voters in Denver and Douglas County experienced, Dennis said: "I find it amusing that people will stand in line for three days to get a new PlayStation, but they complain about a couple of hours in line to vote."

Reporting on a speech Dennis gave to the Pueblo Pachyderms Republican club, the Chieftain stated that "Gigi Dennis took on a stint as Colorado secretary of state on the cusp of major changes in election rules. She survived with her smile intact, but she doesn't seem too sad about leaving the office in January." The Chieftain further reported:

Before Dennis even took office, she was sued by groups opposing the new election equipment covered by the federal Help America Vote Act.

Dennis saw the office through the process of certifying all that new equipment -- developing about 400 different tests to check every component of the equipment and process.

One of the hallmarks of HAVA was a requirement that handicapped voters be afforded as much privacy and independence as possible in casting their ballot, she said.

"Yes, it was expensive. But those two words, private and independent, are very important to those voters," she said.

However, as Colorado Media Matters noted, Denver District Judge Lawrence Manzanares ruled on September 22 that "Dennis' office never created minimum security standards for the [voting] machines [as required by state law]" and that "the state did an 'abysmal' job of documenting testing during the certification process." Following Manzanares's decision, The Denver Post reported on September 23 that "Coloradans will head to polls in November with the lowest level of confidence in recent memory, experts say, after a judge condemned the methods used to certify electronic voting machines across the state." According to the Post:

Secretary of State Gigi Dennis' office never created minimum security standards for the machines -- as required by state law, Denver District Judge Lawrence Manzanares said Friday. And he said the state did an "abysmal" job of documenting testing during the certification process.

So voters across the state who cast ballots on electronic voting machines will rest their choices for local, gubernatorial and congressional races on new technology that has not been properly certified.

The Post noted that, according to Manzanares, Colorado's voting "machines still can be used because 'decertifying all the machines in the state ... would create more problems than it would solve.' " The same article also reported, "But after the election, the machines will have to be certified again under a better process, the judge ruled."

As the Rocky Mountain News reported after the election, voters at some polling centers in Denver had waited "two and three hours to vote" on Election Day while some voters in Douglas County waited in "lines as long as 5 1/2 hours."

From Wood's article "Secretary of State reviews experiences, recent election" in the November 18 edition of The Pueblo Chieftain:

Gigi Dennis took on a stint as Colorado secretary of state on the cusp of major changes in election rules. She survived with her smile intact, but she doesn't seem too sad about leaving the office in January.

Dennis spoke at a meeting of Pueblo Pachyderms Republican club on Friday at the Pueblo Convention Center.

Dennis previously served as a state senator from Pueblo West and then President Bush appointed her as director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Office in Colorado.

When Secretary of State Donetta Davidson left the office in July 2005 to work on the federal election reform, Dennis was appointed to replace her.

Before Dennis even took office, she was sued by groups opposing the new election equipment covered by the federal Help America Vote Act.

Dennis saw the office through the process of certifying all that new equipment -- developing about 400 different tests to check every component of the equipment and process.

One of the hallmarks of HAVA was a requirement that handicapped voters be afforded as much privacy and independence as possible in casting their ballot, she said.

"Yes, it was expensive. But those two words, private and independent, are very important to those voters," she said.

[...]

She noted the mass confusion over the Nov. 7 election in Denver and Douglas County, but added, "I find it amusing that people will stand in line for three days to get a new PlayStation, but they complain about a couple of hours in line to vote."

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