The majority of those participating in the hand count of the Saguache 2010 election Aug. 29-31are in agreement that key materials they needed to review in order to determine the cause of election irregularities were withheld from the public.
The count varied little from the initial totals released by the county following the SOS review of the retabulation and the subsequent recount. Most importantly, judges were not allowed to break mail-in ballots into precincts for a close examination or to count Precinct 5 votes as a separate group.
The SOS refused citizens participating as counting judges to perform the following:
• A separate count of all Prec. 5 (Crestone) votes, which Saguache County Clerk Melinda Myers and the SOS determined were overwritten on the M650 software Nov. 2.
• Reconciliation of the ballot inventory (ballots printed, issued, spoiled, mailed, duplicated, etc.)
• Reconciliation of the number of mail ballots to mail-in envelopes with known discrepancies.
• Resolution of incorrect decisions made to exclude votes on provisional ballots.
• Permission for judges to count the controversial Ambulance District race, which won by only one vote. There were numerous suspected ineligible voters who voted in this race and other questionable behavior was never explained.
• Production as requested by judges and others of the Nov. 2 unofficial results and precinct tallies.
• Complete examination and verified inclusion of the overvotes, which one Nov. 2, 2010 Republican judge stated earlier this year were not counted on election night.
Throughout the three-day count, several of the SOS officials who came to supervise were unavailable during much of the process. Two individuals worked supervising judges and but the days were punctuated with many long breaks and frequent phone consults with other supervisors.
During the count two judges — a Republican and a Democrat — expressed disgust about the absolute “mess” they found when trying to sort through the ballots. One judge commented that it was a good indication the county needs another clerk.
On Tuesday, nearly all of the judges threatened to walk out when it became clear that many of the areas of concern in the races in question would not be reviewed. “If we don’t count Prec. 5 and look at that there is no use in doing it,” Judge Ed Nielsen protested.
The judges decided to stay, however, to act as witnesses to what was taking place and further document ballot irregularities.