Where the problems in Denver suprising?

No, says Kim Brace (Election Data Services) in this morning’s Rocky Mountain News:

“Is it a surprise? No,” said Kimball Brace, president of Washington, D.C.-based Election Data Services, a consulting firm specializing in election administration.

“Is it unfortunate? Yes.”

Brace said he talked to top Denver Election Commission officials Tuesday afternoon after hearing about computer problems causing voter lines to snake out to the sidewalks.

“Our advice is always be careful that you’re not biting off too much,” Brace said.

“Denver might have bitten off too much at once with the new voting centers and new electronic voting machines. When you throw that together all at the same time, it’s not surprising what happened.”

Bob Stein (Rice University) also expressed a similar sentiment in the same story:

t will take weeks to fully understand what went wrong, said Robert Stein, dean of Rice University’s School of Social Sciences who has studied Colorado’s vote center trend and has met with Denver election officials in the past.

“I was shocked when I heard Denver was adopting this,” Stein said.

Stein said the clerk in Harris County, Texas, where he lives, said vote centers wouldn’t work in large cities because it would be too difficult to bring large numbers of people to central locations to vote.

But Stein is not convinced it is impossible.

“It’s not clear it has failed,” he said.

It does should from what I’ve read and heard so far that Denver put themselves in a difficult situation; as Thad and I have argued frequently over the years, election officials should start small, experiment, and learn from pilot projects before trying to implement large-scale and extensive changes in election administration. It sounds at this point that this might be the lesson from Denver’s experiences on Tuesday.