Denver Elections Simulates Vote Center for County Clerks Association

Published on June 28, 2023

Denver Elections Division Simulates Vote Center for County Clerks Association

Vote center simulation educates members of Colorado County Clerks Association on compliance with state and federal election laws

DURANGO, CO – The Elections Division of the Office of the Denver Clerk and Recorder set up a simulated Voter Service and Polling Center (VSPC) at the Summer 2023 Colorado County Clerks Association (CCCA) conference at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Lee originated the idea and invited the Denver Clerk’s Office to carry out the “VSPC Compliance Scavenger Hunt” which took place Tuesday, June 27, 2023, from 4 - 5 p.m. in the Fort Lewis College Student Union Ballroom.

In the simulation, the Elections Division operations team created an intentionally problematic vote center to exhibit the variety of pitfalls that can occur in VSPC setup and demonstrate how to amend these errors to comply with state and federal laws.

“We’ve made a truly horrendous VSPC, on purpose,” noted IT Senior Systems Analyst Canon Hamlin. The simulated vote center contained more than 40 problems ranging from safety issues like loose cords to security flaws like unsecured personally identifiable information (PII). Other issues included improper or no signage and unlocked ballot boxes. Approximately 150 CCCA conference attendees entered the simulated vote center knowing to look for and notate problems they observed. After the simulation, Elections Division staff shared the full list of problems and led a debrief session. Participants learned about common mistakes to avoid, in addition to differences in VSPC setup approaches among counties operating in varying contexts (number of ballot styles, number of vote centers, etc.).

The intent of the simulation was to demonstrate what not to do and to spark a discussion around correcting the observed problems. Elections Director Todd Davidson said, “Our staff oversee the setup of every Denver vote center to assure compliance. This is why we instruct election judges not to move around their VSPC and frequently send staff to re-verify compliance.” Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul López said, “We and our colleagues across the state work to ensure that every voter has the best, most accessible, most secure voting experience that we can provide regardless of how they cast their ballot. While over 90% of Denver voters return their ballot by mail or at a drop box, we continue to make sure that voters who participate in person have a top-notch experience as well.” The simulation and the CCCA conference generously hosted by the La Plata County Clerk and Recorder’s Office are examples of Denver’s inter-county collaborations to promote VSPC excellence.