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New ballot box cameras proposed for El Paso County; first step in proposed housing development, redistricting strategy approved Tuesday

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- Many of us rely on video streaming to watch our favorite online shows, and Clerk & Recorder Steve Schleiker is suggesting the same concept for cameras presently used to monitor 39 ballot boxes.


As a way to improve security and transparency in the mail-in voting process, Schleiker -- elected to the office last fall after serving as county assessor -- presented the idea to county commissioners during his first quarterly update.

"This is one of my priorities for the second quarter," he told them.

El Paso County

Schleiker said that the traditional method of recording and storing video presented numerous problems, such as using different video systems that made obtaining video difficult, and a lack of alert systems to notify his office of equipment failures or repair needs.

"Any remote connections rely on hot spots activated for the recent election that were not made for this function," he explained. "And in remote locations that tend to have unstable signal, we don't know if the wi-fi is down or if the entire system has failed. So currently, when we install a camera, we have to have power and wi-fi."


Schleiker said that video streaming is an easier and more efficient method.

"The new camera system will allow public access to stream all 39 drop boxes embedded on our website -- which is going to reduce the CORA requests because there's going to be full transparency," he said. "It's going to be out there. Anybody can go to that."

El Paso County

Each new camera would need only a post and bracket to support it, be powered by a solar panel, and be activated by a motion sensor.

"We're required to have at least 25 months of storage but the new system would increase that to ten years," he said. "And we'd have backup storage."


Schleiker didn't say how much the new system would cost, but told commissioners that he would keep them updated on the process.

He also said that proposed legislation by state lawmakers addresses a related issue -- mandates from the state capitol to require cameras based on population but include little or no funding to local governments.


"Right now, the reimbursement to the county is 80 cents per registered voter -- which is nothing," he said. "That doesn't even pay for the postage of sending the ballots out. So, what they're looking at is increasing that to 45% of all election costs. That is going to have a huge effect and reduce the burden on our taxpayers."

In other county business Tuesday, commissioners ended a long discussion and public hearing by -- for the first time -- unanimously voting to work with staff to manage redistricting of the five commissioner districts, required because of growth reflected in the 2020 census.


The redistricting -- formerly managed by the Clerk & Recorder's Office -- became controversial because a 2021 state law provided four options for handling the process: Having it done by commissioners, by an independent group, or with either consulting with an independent commission or advisory board.

The initial resolution considered by commissioners included a requirements that they use existing commissioner boundaries as a basis for redistricting; that was later amended to commissioners only considering that requirement.


All of more than a dozen citizens who spoke during the hearing, opposed having commissioners as the redistricting body and preferred to have the task handled by an independent commission or advisory board.

"Its not fair to have you redraw the boundaries in which your own constituents will elect you," one speaker said. "And there's no guarantee that the redistricting will properly reflect the growth that we've had."


Commissioners, in voting to assume the responsibility, disagreed with most of the concerns expressed during the hearing.

The law requires the redistricting process to be finished by mid-August, and that at least five meetings are held, one in each of the five commissioner districts, along with several public hearings.

El Paso County

Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez echoed some public concern that commissioners will be challenged to be available to attend those meetings along with their regular meetings and other commitments.

Finally, in a 4-1 vote, commissioners gave final approval to the first step of a plan by Classic Communities to build 450 homes southwest of the intersection of Vollmer and Poco roads; the proposal passed the county planning commission last week after Classic made changes in response to neighborhood opposition.

El Paso County

Gonzalez cast the dissenting vote, agreeing with opponents that parts of the project were too dense when compared to existing larger lot sizes in the surrounding neighborhood.

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Scott Harrison

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