Just 2 votes apart, New Castle must wait for verdict on car tax
In Garfield County’s most tightly contested vote, New Castle residents may have to wait until the final week of November to find out if the town’s proposed car tax passed.
At a count of 438 in favor and 436 against on Wednesday, Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico confirmed that the vote would require a recount — but just barely.
A recount becomes mandatory if the difference between the margin of victory divided by the winning number of votes is less than one half of 1 percent. Alberico said that if the margin had been three, a recount would not be needed.
However, she said she received as many as seven ballots with missing signatures or signature discrepancies. Those ballots will have to be confirmed through the “cure” process. Any voter who has a signature discrepancy or missing signature will be sent a letter from Garfield County. Voters have until 5 p.m. Nov. 15 to resolve the signature issue on their ballot. Failing to do so means the vote won’t be counted.
Alberico also said that an additional five ballots were not counted as part of the curing process. That is done to ensure that the public won’t able to determine how people with signature issues ultimately vote, since the names of people who receive letters are public record. All of that means that as many as 12 ballots may be added to the official count by next Thursday.
Alberico expects to have the unofficial final results posted by noon Nov. 16, and those numbers will determine if a recount is mandatory.
If the margin of victory divided by the greatest number of votes, yes or no, is less than one half of a percentage point then, New Castle voters will have to wait until after Thanksgiving to hear the final results.
Alberico expects the recount, if necessary, to take place during the final week of November.
The ballot question asked for a one-time, 3.5 percent use tax which would be collected when New Castle residents purchase a new or used vehicle that requires registration. New Castle, whose revenue from natural gas activity has dropped sharply in recent years, is the only Garfield County community that does not already collect this tax, which was projected to raise $330,000 annually for the town.