Friday finality in DA race?
Winner to be decided by a few unconfirmed ballots
Friday may bring finality to the drawn out race for the Republican nominee for 22nd Judicial District attorney. Or there may be more waiting.
After unofficial numbers were tabulated in the 22nd Judicial District on primary day, Tuesday, June 26, challenger Will Furse held a razor-thin lead over incumbent DA Russell Wasley. Out of 3,825 ballots cast in Montezuma and Dolores counties, Furse claimed 1,917 votes, 50.1 percent, and Wasley held 1,908 votes, 49.9 percent. The current difference is nine votes.
However, not every vote cast in the 2012 primary election has been counted, and clerks in Montezuma and Dolores counties are waiting until the end of business today to count between 60 and 70 outstanding ballots.
Colorado election law allows for an eight-day window after a mail-in ballot election during which voters who failed to sign their ballots may rectify the error and “cure” their ballots. Clerks are also waiting for ballots from military voters and county residents living overseas. Called UOCAVA ballots, the deadline for return is also today.
Both counties withheld 25 ballots from counting on primary day, the minimum needed to run a batch through the counting machine. In addition, Dolores County is waiting on two ballots from military voters and Montezuma County is waiting on 20 to 30 ballots that came in without signatures.
Local voters have been calling the Montezuma County clerk’s office to find out if their ballots are in danger of not being counted and nearly 20 voters have cured their ballots in the past week, according to Montezuma County Clerk Carol Tullis. Voters whose signatures were not on their ballots were contacted by mail and phone of the opportunity to fix the problem.
“We have to have the signatures and the UOCAVA ballots by the close of business (today),” Tullis said.
Tullis cautioned that not all outstanding ballots are necessarily GOP ballots and the numbers outstanding may not represent the final numbers added to the DA tallies.
Though ballots must be returned by 5 p.m. tonight, results will not be available until Friday, when the counties complete the canvassing process to finalize the primary results.
“(Tomorrow) we will be doing our canvass,” Tullis said. “We will count the ballots that are still out and have official results in the county commissioner races and the new results for the DA’s race.”
Though results for the DA’s race will be made public Friday, they will not yet be official. The numbers for the race for state office will be sent to the Secretary of State’s office for verification and a decision on whether or not to order a recount.
Colorado election law mandates a recount if the margin of victory in the district is less than one half of one percent of the total votes cast. The current nine-vote difference is just 0.02 percent of the total vote. Candidates may request a recount, to be conducted at their own expense, if one is not mandated by the state.
DA candidate Will Furse said he is back to business as usual this week, awaiting the results of the election.
“I am carrying on with my practice and attending to the needs of my office and my clients and carrying on with life,” Furse said in a phone interview Tuesday. “All the while, I know this date is lingering and will be coming soon, although the campaigning has ended.”
Furse said he has not really considered whether or not to request a recount.
“I will have to weight the costs and other factors not known to me right now as to whether or not I want (a recount),” he said.
Wasley was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.
Once abstracts are delivered to the Secretary of State’s office the determination will be made whether an automatic recount has been triggered. Should the Secretary of State’s office order a recount, that decision will be made by July 16. Candidates may request a recount, to be conducted at their own expense, by July 17. Recounts must be completed by July 26.
Tullis said this is the closest, and most contentious, race she has seen in the county and she believes the county will see a recount in the race.
“I think this is still going to be really down to the wire and I don’t know whether or not the outstanding ballots will get us out of that recount zone,” she said. “I feel there will probably be a recount. It will be a very close result and I anticipate a recount.”
Reach Kimberly Benedict at firstname.lastname@example.org.