I want to take a moment and go on the public record:
I am working as a volunteer in Elbert County on the 2016 General Election. I have always believed that helping with elections is my civic duty. To me, there is nothing more important than to protect the integrity of our elections. Each election cycle I am honored to take the oath as an election official to do my job honestly and without bias. I feel privileged to work next to friends whom I know to hold opposing political viewpoints than my own. I applaud each and every citizen who is dedicated to this, the American way.
I am certain that the election process in Elbert County is being run fairly and that there is no reason to fear for the validity of this upcoming election. Elbert County Clerk and Recorder Dallas Schroeder and Election Manager Rhonda Braun have, to the best of my knowledge, provided the time and resources necessary for a fair election and have provided a bipartisan environment that will meet the stringent requirements put upon the county by the Secretary of State’s Office for the State of Colorado.
That said, I want to point out that the 2016 election is probably one of the most contentious in modern times. This election, poll watchers, registered and trained by the state, will be at the polls to observe this process in unprecedented numbers. They will be required to follow strict guidelines and will be doing a very important job this election cycle. They will be helping us to maintain faith in the American electoral process. As I have pointed out in a previous article, it is not likely but it is possible, due to the heated nature of our presidential contest, for the polling places to experience turmoil. There have been articles both in print and played on television in regards to these concerns and I believe you, the reader, have seen them, too.
This year both of the two major political parties in Colorado have expressed concerns that the full service voter centers where people are working must have adequate security in place in the off-chance that something might go wrong. I brought these concerns to both Dallas Schroeder and Rhonda Braun. I did this only after speaking to several other judges who had questions as to the safety of the volunteer poll workers. To their credit, our election officials addressed these concerns and asked Sheriff Shayne Heap to provide at least two deputies on election day to cover the two remote Voter Service Centers. It was reported to me that the request was denied due to budgetary constraints.
Mr. Schroeder has no way to compel the Sheriff’s Office to provide security, but it was discussed that members of the Elbert County Sheriff’s Posse would be asked to come to these sights to help poll watchers feel more secure. While I have great respect for these volunteers, from a legal standpoint, I do not believe these citizens can do much more than give verbal admonishment to a potential disrupter and then call the Sheriff’s Office for backup. Sheriff Heap did say that their officers would stop by and check in with the poll workers. It is my fervent hope that this will be sufficient coverage.
It has been a long standing tradition here in Elbert County that at community gatherings, especially where a contentious issue is being addressed, that uniformed law enforcement officers are in attendance for purposes of security. I do not know why this election does not break the threshold of the need for security or if it is purely a budgetary situation that makes it impossible, but the issue has been discussed. Perhaps, in defense of the Sheriff’s Office, their opinion is consistent with law enforcement offices in both Pueblo and Colorado Springs as is shown in the following televised clip. The inclusion of the Sheriff’s Office was not part of the Elbert County election training as was the case in Pueblo and the Springs and that may be something to discuss for future elections.
I do feel it is important to go on record as saying that the request for security was made. I believe that it would be terrible if any harm occurs to any volunteer or voter in Elbert County because of a lack of security. I believe that it needed to be pointed out that this was a topic that was raised before voting ever commenced in this general election so that the issue can be addressed for future election cycles. This is my opinion alone and not meant to reflect any official position of the Elbert Democratic Party.