Basalt faces tough call after election foul-up
November 14, 2002
Basalt officials hope the confusion over mixed-up election results somehow gets sorted out before the town is scheduled to change its style of government Jan. 1.
Voters approved switching to a “home rule” style of government by an overwhelming margin ? 74 to 26 percent ? in the November election.
In a separate question, voters rejected eliminating term limits in the home rule charter.
Under normal circumstances, the town would implement its home rule charter ? which defines how the government operates ? and get on with life.
However, an election day foul-up at a polling center is making circumstances anything but normal. Election judges issued ballots which allowed residents who live outside of Basalt to vote on the two town issues, according to Eagle County Clerk Sara Fisher.
She’s uncertain if all town voters in Precinct 24 were given ballots that allowed them to vote on the two town issues. Some might not have had the opportunity, she confirmed Wednesday.
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The foul-up wouldn’t affect the outcome of home rule implementation because it won by such a commanding margin, according to Fisher. However, the results on the term limits question could have been affected by the ballot problem, she explained in a letter to town officials.
“It looks like Florida,” quipped town manager Tom Baker.
Fisher initially said the election results on Basalt’s term limit question probably couldn’t be certified by the county election commission. However, after checking with elections experts in the Secretary of State’s office, she said the results will be certified with a note that the polling place foul-up could have affected the outcome.
Fisher said Basalt officials will have to decide whether the outcome should be considered valid or thrown out. They will also have to decide if another election is necessary to resolve the issue.
If that is the case, it could delay implementation of the home rule charter, according to town attorney Jody Edwards. He told council members Tuesday night that it would be tough to implement the charter if the results of the term limits ballot question are unknown.
Edwards said he needed to conduct more legal research on how to resolve the issue. Town Council members made it clear they will welcome any guidance possible.
The county election commission, also known as the canvas board, will meet today to make election results official. The final results will include a tally of what is known as provisional ballots. Provisional votes were cast by people who had registration problems or other last-minute issues. They were allowed to vote, but their ballots weren’t counted until research could confirm the validity of their status.
The provisional votes will settle the outcome of at least one race. Before they were counted, creation of an open space district was behind by a margin of 5,456 to 5,454.
But Fisher said an additional 373 provisional ballots must be figured into the total.
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