CO next to go full by mail?

From the mailbag comes this story from Denver’s Rocky Mountain News: Sec’y of State Coffman has “bowed to pressure” from county clerks and is getting behind a move to fully by-mail balloting for the 2008 presidential contest.

As readers here probably know, Coffman decertified electronic machines currently in use in Colorado a few months ago, throwing election planning into chaos. A battle has ensued in the state legislature, and among various clerks, about what the alternative should be. There is consensus that the state should move to paper balloting, but the mode remains controversial: by-mail, by-mail with a precinct “backup”, or mainly precinct on paper.

The future of the “vote center” concept pioneered by Scott Doyle in Larimer County are also threatened by this change. Vote centers rely on electronic machines to be able to generate the many ballot styles required in any “super precinct” setup. I recall hearing Doyle talk last Fall, and I believe he said that there are 81 ballot styles in Larimer County alone. The technology for “ballot on demand” is still somewhat controversial, but without BOD printing, a vote center really is not compatible with vote centers paper ballots (and certainly not with VBM!). (Thanks to DC for the correction.)

I wonder what my colleague Bob Stein, who is studying vote centers this Fall under a Pew funded project, will do about all this?