Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter yesterday signed bipartisan legislation that will allow Secretary of State Mike Coffman to begin the review and recertification process for electronic voting machines that the secretary decertified in December.

House Bill 08-1155's chief sponsors were Rep. David Balmer, R-Centennial, and Sen. Ken Gordon, D-Denver.

"Access to electronic voting machines is required by federal law and is essential for those in the disabled community who wish to vote without the assistance of another person," Gov. Ritter said. "Many of the machines were decertified due to problems that can be addressed by simply upgrading software or hardware or making other changes to how the machines are used.

"Current law prevents the secretary from taking these changes into account without going through a lengthy process that will not give our county clerks adequate time to prepare for the 2008 elections," Ritter added. "House Bill 1155 will allow the secretary to move forward quickly without compromising the accuracy and security of our voting equipment. This will allow for necessary, limited use of electronic voting machines this year.

"We are still moving ahead with legislation for statewide paper-ballot elections. Paper ballots in precincts are a tried-and-true approach that will enable county clerks to plan for the elections in an environment that minimizes the risk of litigation and maximizes the likelihood of success."

Said Rep. Balmer: "This bill will give Secretary Coffman the ability to take certain decertified machines back through the process as quickly as possible without reducing the stringent requirements we have in Colorado."

Said Sen. Gordon: "We are doing this in a bipartisan way. We want the people of Colorado to have confidence that they will be able to vote, and that their votes will count. We will have a good election process that the people of Colorado can be proud of."