District 61 outcome comes down to Garfield County | AspenTimes.com

District 61 outcome comes down to Garfield County

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox/Post IndependentGarfield County election judges, shown from left, Charlotte Hood, Irene Friedman and Lois Wilmoth, recount ballots at the county courthouse on Tuesday.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Inspections of under-voted ballots in four of the five counties that make up Colorado House District 61 yielded another 210 votes for write-in candidate Kathleen Curry of Gunnison as of Tuesday.

However, Garfield County, which has the largest block of voters in the district, was still in the process of tallying votes as part of its court-ordered inspection of 800 under-voted ballots in the race, Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico said.

“We will come back first thing in the morning and should be done about midday [Wednesday],” Alberico said.

“The biggest challenge has been manually looking through so many ballots,” she said. “It just takes a lot of time when you have 18,000 ballots to go through and find all the under-voted ballots.”

As of late Tuesday afternoon, Garfield County election judges had finished sorting through all the mail-in ballots, which represented a majority of the ballots cast in the Nov. 2 election. That left a smaller batch of ballots cast at voting precincts on Election Day to be worked through, Alberico said.

Meanwhile, Democrat Roger Wilson of Glenwood Springs saw his lead over the unaffiliated incumbent Rep. Curry grow to more than 600 votes after provisional ballots were counted by the respective county clerks offices last week.

After switching her political affiliation from Democrat to independent last year, Curry was forced to run for re-election as a write-in candidate against Wilson and Republican Luke Korkowski of Mt. Crested Butte.

Wilson was the apparent winner after the election. However, Denver District Judge John W. Madden ruled three days later that some 2,000 under-voted ballots – those on which a vote was not recorded in the District 61 race – be inspected by hand, and any clear write-in votes for Curry be added to the tally.

The judge’s ruling was based on the possibility that enough of the under-voted ballots may actually include write-in votes for Curry, even though the voter did not fill in the box or oval next to the write-in line. Optical scanners used in the initial count would not have picked up those votes.

However, the new tallies as of Tuesday still left Curry with a 392-vote gap to make up – a significant margin that, based on numbers from the other four counties, would seem unlikely for her to make up.

In Curry’s home Gunnison County, for instance, out of 407 under-voted ballots, only an additional 78 write-in votes were recorded for Curry.

In Pitkin County, where voters heavily supported Wilson to begin with, out of 597 under-voted ballots, Curry picked up 110 votes.

Eagle County recorded an additional 14 votes for Curry, and the smallest of the HD 61 counties, Hinsdale, reported eight more Curry votes.

Should Garfield County’s results pull Curry and Wilson to within one-half of 1 percent (approximately 50 votes either way) of each other, it would trigger an automatic full recount of all the ballots.

At this point, Curry would need about 442 additional votes from Garfield County to surpass Wilson by enough of a margin to be declared the winner.

Neither Curry nor Wilson could be reached for comment Tuesday evening on the latest numbers in the race.