Keeping Up With the Jones

This gadfly gets our vote.

She fought the urge. She really did. But finally, she surrendered. "Someone's gotta do it," Lisa Jones says, and sighs.

Or, as her new website, VoterJones: The Fix Is In (www.voterjones.com), puts it: "Many voters suspect that the Denver Election Commission is messed up somehow. The purpose of this is to illustrate exactly how." And so Exhibit A is the itemization behind this week's revelation that the DEC is $768,000 over budget, "with more cost overruns expected in coming months." But Jones isn't content with just putting up the dull documentation behind the budget-busting; she also makes lively predictions, such as this one: "Sequoia will be glad to get that extra $112,500 for more printers, considering all the blame they've taken for Denver's absentee ballot glitches."

Jones gave the scoop on some of those glitches in an October 10 post on her old site, which pointed out that a thin black line on the front of "Card 1 of 2" of Denver's absentee ballot could be read on the back as a "no" vote for Judge Johnny Charles Barajas; a similar flaw on "Card 2 of 2" could result in an inadvertent "no" vote on Referendum F. "Absentee ballots are counted by an optical scanner," she wrote. "It has been demonstrated that relatively translucent paper allows markings on one side of the ballot to be counted as votes when the other side is scanned. It has happened before in Denver, in the 2003 school board race."

And Jones would know, because she worked at the DEC back in May 2003. She was only there a few weeks (she's now a fundraising writer at National Jewish), but she came away with so much information that her DEC posts soon overtook her obsession with the Rocky Mountain News, her previous blogging focus. "I don't have a personal beef," she insists. "But professionally, I'm just appalled."

And so, just in time for the November 2006 election, her new site is up and running, soon to spill over with a compendium of DEC blunders, both historic and new. "I get a lot of anonymous tips," she says, "and the harder you look, the more you find."

Considering all the problems she's catalogued so far, how does Jones herself plan to vote -- absentee, early voter or at one of the new vote centers come November 7? She's going for absentee, she says, but since she used her first absentee ballot as an illustration on the web, she needs a new one -- and she thought she'd drop by the DEC meeting this past Tuesday night to pick it up. "After that," she says, "I'm going to hand-deliver it to the Election Commission and hope for the best."

But if worse comes to worst, you'll read all about it at VoterJones.

 
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