State recounting two Garfield elections
Post Independent Staff
State election officials picked up all the ballots from the contested 2003 election in Garfield County and they’re getting ready to conduct recounts in both contests.
The two contested elections were the Ward 1 Glenwood Springs City Council race between incumbent Rick Davis and challenger Larry Beckwith, and the Garfield School District 16 ballot question on a mill levy override tax increase.
According to the official Garfield County results, Beckwith defeated Davis by a scant three votes and the mill levy question lost by just four votes.
Drew Durham, director of the Colorado Secretary of State’s Help America Vote Act program, drove to Glenwood Springs from Denver on Feb. 9 to pick up three boxes full of ballots. The ballots, now at HAVA headquarters, are being divided up and readied for a hand recount.
“We have no calendar on how long this could take,” Secretary of State spokeswoman Lisa Doran said Thursday.
HAVA officials have been busy dividing the ballots up, separating absentee, early voting and provisional ballots.
During the hand count, HAVA officials will closely examine the ballots to see if there were any situations where someone may have penciled in a vote, scribbled it out, then voted again on the same issue or race.
“We’re trying to determine voter intent,” she said. “Sometimes it looks like they voted, but one’s scratched out.”
Other alleged irregularities include:
– At least two Ward 1 voters not getting ballots printed with the Ward 1 race.
– Conflicting instructions to mark the mail-in ballots with pen and pencil, which may have resulted in 50 Ward 1 ballots being counted as not having a vote for either Ward 1 candidate.
– 23 unopened ballots found a few days after the election in the Ward 1 race.
District 16’s concerns focused on 84 under-votes, ballots where voters apparently did not mark either the “yes” or “no” box for the tax question.
Conflicting instructions on the mail-in ballots advised voters in one place to use pen and in another place to use pencil.
Garfield County Clerk Mildred Alsdorf has said the vote counting machine kicked out ballots marked with ink, and a resolution board marked over the ink with pencil so the votes could be counted.
But District 16 officials wonder if the machine caught all the ink votes, or may have registered some as an under-vote without kicking the ballot out for re-marking.
Doran said once the recounts are finished, HAVA will file a report on the results. But even if the results of the two races change, the investigation will not overturn Beckwith’s win or the ballot question’s defeat.
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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