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Candelaria holds on to win Montezuma commissioner’s race

Montezuma County Commissioner Jim Candelaria listens as his wife, Jan, reads his candidate caucus letter during the reelection campaign. Candelaria held his lead to win the June 28 Republican primary election and secure a second term. He will not face a challenger in the November general election. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
Republican incumbent wins by slim margin; verified signature ballots don’t change outcome

After final ballots were verified for signatures, Republican Montezuma County Commissioner Jim Candelaria secured his bid for a second term in the June 28 Republican primary.

Candelaria beat Republican challenger Tim Lanier 38.03% to 36.71%, or 2,072 votes to 2,000, according to updated unofficial results released Friday by Montezuma County Clerk and Recorder Kim Percell.

Liz Tozer was third with 25.24% or 1,375 votes.

At the end of election night June 28, Candelaria had a 61-vote lead, but about 200 ballots were set aside because of signature discrepancy and verification issues.

Based on Colorado law, voters with signature discrepancies on their ballots are contacted by the Clerk’s Office and have eight days to verify their signature and ballot.

Percell said 75 of those voters verified their ballots by the deadline, and the votes were counted.

Jun 28, 2022
Montezuma Commissioner Candelaria appears headed to reelection in close race

Of the signature discrepancy ballots verified, 34 votes went to Candelaria, 23 votes went to Lanier, and 18 votes went to Tozer.

The signature verification process allows voters to correct mistakes signing the ballot envelope, Percell said. Common mistakes are forgetting to sign a ballot, or accidentally signing another person’s ballot mailed to a shared address.

Election judges set aside unresolved ballots for the eight-day signature verification process.

Voters who verify their signature and ballot do not change choices made on the ballot.

The close commissioner race does not qualify for an automatic recount, Percell said. The margin must be 1 percentage point or less for an automatic recount. Candelaria won by 1.32 percentage points.

Lanier can request a recount but would have to pay for it, according to election rules.

Candelaria will be alone on the ballot in the November general election because no challenger is running against him.

Election canvass judges will conduct election audits Monday. The audit involves pulling a random batch of ballots, and checking that they were accurately recorded. After every county passes the audit, the election is certified by the Colorado Secretary of State.