The review of the 2010 ballots, won by Sec. of State Scott Gessler last month began in Saguache Monday, with a core group of volunteers offering to serve as judges and observers for the hand count. Judge Martin Gonzales ruled in Gessler’s favor Aug. 11 allowing the SOS to view voted ballots, which Gonzales determined “may be subjected to public inspection.” His ruling shot down Saguache County Clerk Melinda Myers’ contention that such a review would violate voters’ rights to secrecy.
Directives for the review issued by the SOS last week did not preclude the counting of mail-in ballots separated out into precincts. But Jessica Duboe, Democrat judge for the Nov. 2 election told the SOS that the mail-in ballots were not sorted by precinct and indicated they should not be disturbed. Duboe added that she was speaking as a representative of the clerk’s office.
The group peppered Secretary of State’s Office (SOS) staff with questions about how the review should be conducted and what should be reviewed. They protested that the votes cast in Prec. 5 (Crestone) have been in question since the election and since they were largely mail-in, should be counted as a precinct in order to decide if the Nov. 5 “retabulation” of these votes following the discovery of the error was accurate.
Wayne Munster with the SOS’ elections division told those gathered at the Community Center in Saguache for the review that his office has the Nov. 2 results of the election which many indicated they would like to use for comparison in figuring out how conflicting totals can be reconciled. But Munster could not confirm the totals were broken out by precinct.
Press members and others experienced difficulty Nov. 2-3 in obtaining the unofficial results of the election. Some observing the election activities believe the precinct totals were printed out but were never made available to the public. Clerk Myers has consistently refused to provide the Nov. 2 precinct totals, claiming they are irrelevant because of a software error that overwrote files, requiring the retabulation.
The SOS assigned teams to citizen volunteers Monday and began sorting out the ballots. Citizens asked the counting activities be delayed until their questions could be answered but Munster and communications officer Andrew Cole simply stated that the directives issued for the review by the SOS last week must be followed.