Official’s ruling overturns mill levy election results
By Greg Masse
Post Independent Staff
Garfield County School District No. 16 will get its mill levy override after all.
A Thursday ruling by Colorado Secretary of State Donetta Davidson gave Garfield County Clerk and Recorder Mildred Alsdorf 15 days to change the official election results to reflect a recount released April 26.
“I will be recertifying the election results,” Alsdorf said.
That recount, performed under the rules of the Help America Vote Act, showed that the ballot question should have passed by 17 votes, rather than failing by 6 votes, as Alsdorf had originally ruled.
The secretary of state’s decision to change the election results was apparently the first time that had been done in Colorado. Until now, the HAVA recounts were thought to be only for guidance in improving elections.
“That’s what we thought, too, but the secretary of state has the authority to change things,” School District No. 16 spokeswoman Sandy Hanson said.
The HAVA recount showed that the mill levy override ballot question – which failed by six votes in Alsdorf’s original count – should have passed by 17 votes.
The override calls for a $996,000 increase in school district funding. That works out to a $54 increase in annual property taxes on a $100,000 home.
“We’re still a little in shock,” Hanson said. “We’re ecstatic about it, but we’re thinking now, ‘What do we do.'”
Denver attorney Pat Mooney, who represented Garfield School District No. 16 in its attempt to have the recount become official, said he wrote a letter to the secretary of state’s office after the HAVA report was released on April 26 requesting that Davidson overturn the election.
“The secretary of state (HAVA) report said it wasn’t going to take any action, but we felt that was not enough,” Mooney said. “We felt the secretary of state had the authority.”
As a result, less than three weeks after the report was issued, Davidson decided to overturn the election.
“I think she did what she had to do and it was the right thing,” Mooney said. “I think the district is pretty happy. I guess, from our perspective, all’s well that ends well.”
Hanson didn’t know on Friday whether the override would be retroactive to November, 2003, or if it will take effect during the district’s next fiscal year. But a news release issued from the district on Friday said after the election is recertified, “the school district will begin the process of setting the mill in December.”
The Help America Vote Act is a federal program administered separately by each state.
After the 2000 U.S. election and recount in Florida, the U.S. Congress authorized federal funding to upgrade voting machines, improve accessibility for voters with disabilities and limited English language proficiency, and require states to develop statewide computerized voter registration lists and do recounts.
Two Garfield County recounts were performed by HAVA after the November 2003, election.
One resulted in the change in the school override election. The other showed that incumbent Glenwood Springs City Councilman Rick Davis should have tied his opponent, Larry Beckwith, rather than losing by three votes, as the official Garfield County results showed.
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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