‘Torture’ continues for week on Eagle County open space | AspenTimes.com

‘Torture’ continues for week on Eagle County open space

Eagle County voters won’t find out for at least a week whether they created an open space preservation program.

The unofficial tally showed that a proposal to raise property taxes to buy and preserve open space failed by two votes in Tuesday’s election. The district was rejected by 5,456 voters, or 50.01 percent, and approved by 5,454, or 49.99 percent.

However, the clerk’s office and election judges must still determine which of the 388 “provisional” ballots are legitimate and must be counted.

Eagle County Clerk Sara Fisher said the remaining votes will probably be counted Wednesday, Nov. 13. For proponents of the tax, the waiting means pure agony.

“I guess this is some sort of torture for those of us who support open space,” said Andy Wiessner, who campaigned for approval.

Provisional votes are new this year due to legislative action. Voters who aren’t recorded in the voter registration book when they appear at a polling place are given a provisional ballot, Fisher explained.

The voters are allowed to cast their preferences but their ballots aren’t counted until their reason for not being in the registration book is investigated. If their reasons are found to be legitimate, their votes will be counted.

Fisher said one common cause for a provisional vote could be a change of address without re-registration. For example, a person may have moved from Aspen to Missouri Heights a year ago but didn’t re-register to vote. As long as they have lived at their new residence for more than 30 days, they can legitimately vote.

Another type of provisional vote could occur when a person applies for an absentee ballot, then doesn’t complete it or turn it in. They would be given a provisional ballot but it must be confirmed that they didn’t already vote, Fisher said.

The investigation takes time, and that’s why the provisional ballots won’t be counted until next week.

Fisher said that if the open space question is decided by less than one-half of 1 percent after the provisional votes are tallied, there will be an automatic recount.

If Eagle County voters from the Roaring Fork Valley had their way, the open space district would have passed easily. The proposal was approved 569 to 494, or 54 to 46 percent, in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Precinct 7, which is Basalt, approved the open space proposal by a wide margin while Precinct 24, which is western Basalt, Sopris Village and Summit Vista, passed it by a comfortable mark. Precinct 8, which is El Jebel, and Precinct 25, which is Blue Lake, rejected it by small margins.

Wiessner, who campaigned door-to-door in the Roaring Fork Valley for several days, said he wasn’t surprised by approval in this part of the county. “I think people are very enlightened and progressive over there,” he said.

Gerry Sandberg certainly thinks so. Roaring Fork Valley residents of Eagle County preferred him over incumbent Tom Stone as county commissioner. Stone won the countywide vote.

Sandberg, a Democrat, attracted 499, or 47 percent, of the votes in the Roaring Fork Valley. Republican Stone garnered 456, or 43 percent. The third candidate in the race, independent Laurie Bower, received 114 votes, or 10 percent, of the tally from the Roaring Fork Valley.

All of it was meaningless. Stone won the countywide vote with 45 percent to Sandberg’s 40 percent and Bower’s 15 percent.

Funding to build recreational amenities in Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District received strong support throughout the Eagle County precincts in the Roaring Fork Valley. However, it was strongest in the precincts that included Sopris Village, Summit Vista and Blue Lake ? three high-density subdivisions close to the park.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com]

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