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Denver Election Panel Begins Investigation

"All options are on the table; nothing is sacred"

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and City Council President Michael Hancock have convened the short-term, action-oriented investigative panel announced last week to quickly analyze Denver's election problems and develop actionable solutions that are expected to form the foundation of a proposed charter reform amendment. The hour-and-a-half meeting was the first of five weekly meetings for the panel. This quick timeline will provide ample time for City Council to consider any Charter change recommendations for the May 2007 municipal ballot.

The broad-based panel of community leaders will review feedback and hear testimony from groups affected by or with perspective on the November 7 election including technology experts, FairVote Colorado, the disabled community, and the political parties. Summaries of feedback from election judges and voters will be provided to the panel, whose members will also have the opportunity to hear public input at City Council's public hearing on the election.

"From the Charter-mandated governance of the Election Commission to the processes by which they conduct elections to the technology itself -- all options are on the table; nothing is sacred," said Hickenlooper, when he announced the panel last week. "The goal of this group is to evaluate the disconnection between the City's intentions, our fully expressed expectations and the unacceptable outcomes. We must remove politics from the equation, probe deeply and act quickly."

By City Charter, the Denver Election Commission is an independent agency over which the Mayor and City Council have no direct control or authority. Currently, two of the three Election Commissioners are independently elected by Denver voters. Together with the Clerk and Recorder, they hire and manage the DEC's Executive Director.

"While the Mayor, City Council and the community at-large agree that change is necessary, we want to ensure that any proposed reforms fully address all electoral needs without unintended consequences that do more harm than good," said Hancock. "This process will provide vital information on which to build reform efforts, and the public airing of information will help to restore public trust in our electoral systems."