Saguache election review off to shaky start
State officials deny review team's request to focus on troublesome precinct.
Posted: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:00 am
Saguache election review off to shaky start By MATT HILDNER | firstname.lastname@example.org The Pueblo Chieftain | 0 comments
SAGUACHE — State election officials' efforts to quiet controversy over Saguache County's November election opened with a rocky start Monday.
Volunteers whom were sworn in as part of the review teams asked if they could look at ballots from a Crestone-area precinct, only to be told that the secretary of state's office did not have the time or manpower to sort the ballots by precinct.
That precinct was the source of votes that were miscounted because of a software operation error election night and led to a second count Nov. 5 that overturned the original results in races for county commissioner and clerk and recorder.
"That would answer a lot of questions that have led to this crisis of confidence," said Lisa Cyriacks, a review team member.
But state officials vowed to stick to the plan they issued last week.
"There's no way we can go back," said Wayne Munster, deputy director of elections for the secretary. "We don't have two weeks and that's what we're looking at."
The review plan issued last week called for the teams to count the ballots by hand in the races for clerk and commissioner, although the review would not overturn the November results.
Another verification team would count the number of mail-in ballot envelopes, poll book signatures, undeliverable ballots, duplicated ballots and rejected ballots.
Steven Carlson, a Republican candidate for county commissioner whose election-night lead was overturned, said this review wouldn't accomplish anything beyond prior reviews.
"What did they intend to find? To me it's nothing," he said.
Carlson also felt that a lackluster review would damage a recall effort that he is leading against County Clerk and Recorder Melinda Myers.
"That's wholly unfair to us," he said.
The review is the second conducted by the secretary's office, although an earlier one in November, which did not hand count the ballots, confirmed the Nov. 5 results.
A statewide grand jury investigation that cleared Myers of any criminal wrongdoing pointed to the election night error in loading the wrong data into report software as the cause of the overturned election results.
State officials had scheduled the afternoon period to review all of the ballots for any marks that would reveal the identity of the voters.
Counting was slated to start today, but the review teams will continue to go through the ballots this morning in an effort to protect voters' identities.