No Official Explanation Yet for Holly Lowder's Sudden and Unexpected Departure, Just 60 Days Prior to Presidential Election in a Very Important 'Swing State'
...But We Have a Few Well-Informed Guesses...
By Brad Friedman on 9/5/2008, 10:31pm PT  

From Rocky Mountain News today...

The director of elections at the secretary of state's office resigned suddenly Thursday.

The departure of Holly Lowder, former Alamosa County clerk, comes two months before what is expected to be one of the biggest elections in recent Colorado history. Lowder's work centered on the implementation of the new statewide voter registration system, said Richard Coolidge, spokesman for the agency.

Lowder could not be reached for comment.
Coolidge would not give details on why Lowder stepped down. He said Thursday was her last day.
Larimer County Clerk Scott Doyle said Lowder was more involved with the voter database early on but had become less involved in recent months.

AP reports that county officials were notified of Lowder's departure via email on Thursday, from the SoS office, which noted only that she had "retired and wanted to 'pursue other opportunities.'"

Sources in CO tell us there will be more coming, likely tomorrow, on this. We're also told that there may be a salacious aspect here that might just make the well-worn euphemism about "election officials being in bed with voting machine vendors," um, somewhat more than just a euphemism. (Talk about your voting machine "sleepovers"!)

[See update for more details on the above, now at bottom of article!]

Aside from the noteworthiness of Lowder's sudden exit, as pointed out in the article, in regard to the importance of Colorado in this year's elections --- the state's 9 electoral votes are thought to be very much up for grabs this year, despite going to Bush in the previous two elections --- BRAD BLOG readers will remember a bit of the background here concerning the utterly dysfunctional state of e-voting in the Centennial State under their current SoS, Mike Coffman...

In short (which ain't easy): A lawsuit brought by citizens against the former Sec. of State (Gigi Dennis) prior to the '06 election resulted in the ordering of the decertification of all touch-screen voting machines in the state, to take effect immediately after that year's general election. The court order, which came after the trial revealed the state's e-voting systems had undergone little if any testing before being previously certified by the state, came too close to the election to order their decert before hand.

The horrible (virtually non-existent) state certification process was begun under Republican SoS Donetta Davidson, who was replaced by Dennis after Davidson was named by George W. Bush as a commissioner of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission. Davidson's new duties at the EAC would include overseeing federal certification for e-voting systems across the entire nation.

After the systems were decertified by the CO judge, the Republican Coffman (who had subsequently replaced Dennis) went about performing actual testing on the systems --- despite stonewalling from the voting machine vendors --- to determine whether they were secure and accurate enough to use in elections. They weren't. So Coffman ordered all but Diebold's machines be decertified.

Why was Diebold alone allowed for continued use? We don't know for certain, but it was discovered shortly thereafter that Coffman's congressional campaign employed the same PR firm as did Diebold in the state. Diebold, of course, denied any improprieties, though after the issue came to light it laid off the PR firm. (Mission accomplished?)

During the ensuing weeks and months, under pressure from county election officials, Coffman began to wobble on his decert orders and eventually allowed pretty much all of the machines to be used as is, once again, for the upcoming 2008 General Election.

He'll be overseeing that election as the state's election chief, even as he runs as a Republican candidate for the U.S. House in the state's 6th Congressional district.

And yes, that's the quick version. And yes, Colorado's a mess. And yes, it's likely to get messier as this latest scandal unravels.

UPDATE 9/6/08: As we mentioned above, more details have now been made available in this story. Turns out Lowder shared a residence with one of the voting company vendors who had state business. Full details now here...

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