Provisional ballots could change IRV outcome in Aspen
November 6, 2009
ASPEN – There are between 25 and 40 provisional ballots in Pitkin County’s mail-in election that have yet to be counted, and depending on how many of them are from Aspen residents, they could change the outcome of the Instant Runoff Voting result.
By a difference of only six votes, Aspen residents chose not to continue using the IRV method in electing the mayor and council members.
The 805-799 margin hardly gives the Aspen City Council a mandate to change how municipal elections are done, and the question was advisory, meaning it’s non-binding.
Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland said it’s possible that between 11 and 18 of the provisional ballots were cast by city residents. He estimated that about 44 percent of Pitkin County’s 3,600 overall ballots were cast by city residents, or about 1,600 ballots.
Ireland speculated that a recount may have to occur if those ballots change the result.
According to Colorado election law, a recount can be held if the difference between the highest number of votes cast and the next highest number of votes cast is less than or equal to one-half of 1 percent of the highest vote cast.
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The city of Aspen would have to incur expenses related to the recount, since it was the city, a political subdivision, that certified the ballot question, according to state law.
A recount must occur no later than 30 days after the Nov. 3 election, and the city of Aspen can waive the automatic recount provisions if it chooses to.
Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder Janice Vos Caudill said it was premature to determine what the outcome of the IRV question will be because voters haven’t sent back their corrected ballots.
“My focus is on process, not speculation,” she said.
Provisional ballots are common and are set aside because they contain a technical defect or discrepancies, such as voters’ signatures don’t match or proper identification wasn’t shown.
The clerk and recorder’s office had two days from the final day of the election to send a letter to individuals notifying them that their ballots couldn’t be certified. They have eight days to cure the situation so their votes can be counted.
Vos Caudill will then work with a bipartisan election judge panel called a canvass board, and add the provisional ballots to the overall count. Nov. 20 is the deadline for Vos Caudill to submit the final results of the election to the state.
The canvass board that certified the election results would be responsible for a recount.