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Garfield County vote tally is delayed

Aspen Times Staff Report

Garfield County didn’t finish its official vote tally Thursday, but the counting crew will be working Friday to try and wrap up what has been a long process.

The delay is stalling confirmation of the creation of a Rural Transportation Authority.

According to Garfield County Clerk and Recorder Mildred Alsdorf, the delay was caused by incorrect computer programming and the county’s huge ballot. The Glenwood Springs ballot was eight pages long. Creased pages from folded absentee ballots, ballots filled out in ink and poorly erased pencil marks created the delays.

The optical scanning machines that read the ballots spit out about 500 absentee ballots which had to be run again.

Alsdorf conducted a recount of the absentee ballots Thursday but said she was unsatisfied with the results and will recount the ballots again today.

The recount should result in breaking out the vote totals for the RTA question in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.

Roaring Fork Transit Agency director Dan Blankenship, who helped spearhead the movement to form the RTA, is assuming it’s a go. Officially, the special district isn’t legal until the state Division of Local Government says so, and that won’t happen until Garfield County certifies the election results.

“Mildred told me the ballot results would be certified by next Wednesday,” said RTA spokesperson Alice Hubbard.

An important unknown is how the RTA vote went in Glenwood Springs. An affirmative vote is necessary in Glenwood and Aspen because, as the cities with the largest tax bases in the district, their revenues are crucial to funding the RTA.

Both Glenwood Springs and Carbondale were given the same ballot question on the RTA, but those votes were not separated out as of Thursday afternoon. Alsdorf said she would not separate the votes out by precinct until the recount is finished because it requires a separate computer program.

But Blankenship is cautiously optimistic the vote will be favorable. He estimated that the measure passed by a wide margin in Carbondale and narrowly in Glenwood Springs.

“It passed handily in Carbondale and was a little tighter in Glenwood Springs,” he said.

According to the unofficial results, in Carbondale and Glenwood combined the RTA had garnered 2,792 votes in favor and 2,249 opposed.

But once the smoke clears and the special district is given the green light, Blankenship said the first order of business is to appoint the board of directors, made up of elected officials who will represent the member governments.

If approved, sales tax revenues will start to come in as of Jan. 1.


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