Last fall’s general election in sparsely populated Saguache County already is one of the most scrutinized in Colorado history, having prompted a report by the secretary of state, a statewide grand jury investigation and at least three lawsuits. Yet this week Saguache is setting a new precedent for election transparency in Colorado, playing host to what state officials believe is the first public review of voted ballots and other election materials of its kind.
And when the days-long recount of the approximately 2,500 ballots is complete — possibly late today, maybe Thursday — absolutely none of last fall’s results will change. That’s OK with Steve Carlson, the 2010 Republican candidate for county commissioner who went home on election night thinking he’d won, only to have the results flipped a few days later. While his race is one of the two controversial races being recounted, Carlson insists what’s at play here is something more important than a commissioner’s seat.
“Do I want to be county commissioner? No, I don’t want that,” Carlson said as he stood toward the back of the room, listening to volunteers call out his name over and over as they read from the ballots, while other volunteers tallied the votes with red ink. “What I want is for ‘we the people’ to realize that elections belong to us, not the clerk and recorder or the county commissioners.”
Humble Saguache County, with about two residents per square mile in south-central Colorado, became the center of election controversy in Colorado after the error-riddled 2010 general election.
On election night, preliminary results showed Clerk and Recorder Melinda Myers — who was overseeing the election — and County Commissioner Linda Joseph, both Democrats, losing their re-election bids. But within a few days, Myers said problems with voting equipment had caused those preliminary numbers to be inaccurate. A “retabulation” was
Volunteers count ballots and keep tabs during a hand review Tuesday of last fall’s voted ballots for the clerk and commissioner races of Saguache County. Members of the secretary of state’s office and local volunteers were on hand to recount the ballots in the Saguache Community Center. The November election led to an outcry by some residents who questioned the validity and fairness of results. Regardless of what the hand review finds, the election results will not be overturned. (AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post)
conducted, and results of those two races flipped.