Although the election canvass totals matched the votes cast for Center’s March 19 recall election, questions remain on why the canvass was conducted without checking mail-in ballot signatures against the State’s SCORE system. Town Clerk and Treasurer Christian Samora and Center Municipal Judge James Sanchez conducted the canvass, counting ballots, but not the actual results of the various races. Recalled candidates John Faron and Moe Jones requested, last week ,that during the canvass the signatures be checked with the system to verify that those who signed the ballot were those who received it in the mail. This comes after reports of rogue ballots being circulated by the recall committee in Center and several challenges made during the election process by watchers.
Center Town Attorney Eugene Farish agreed that federal law allows the signatures to be compared with the originals, as did the Secretary of State’s office, and Farish told Jones and Faron last Friday that the signatures would be checked during the canvass this week. But on Monday the canvass was set up without any prior notice or intent of performing the signature comparisons.
“After looking at the laws over the weekend, Christian didn’t feel like he had enough evidence to conduct a signature verification,” Farish said. “The election official had to make that call.”
Samora stated during the canvass Monday that he did not have to comply with the federal law because the check was optional. When asked if this was true even if challenges were made and irregularities noticed Samora replied that it still was not necessary. Others reported that prior to the canvass Samora commented that performing the signature checks would simply create too many “problems.”
He also indicated that someone from the town had spoken to the Colorado Municipal (CML) League, a lobbying group, about the signature verification and was told by CML’s legal department that it was not necessary. When contacted, a CML spokesperson familiar with the situation said that no formal legal opinion was given the town by CML on the matter in question.