Several Grand County races are still too close to call after election night
Editor’s note: this story has been updated with new vote totals and other information.
With nearly 98% of the votes counted, several local and county races remain too close to call as of Thursday afternoon. Early in the morning on Wednesday, Nov. 9, election workers estimated the county had received 8,160 total votes on or by Election Day, with 7,838 coming from mail-in ballots and 322 from in-person voting. The state’s voter registration system lists 11,823 active voters in Grand County, putting the voter turnout at around 69%.
Of the votes received, election workers counted 7,715 before calling it a night just after 4 a.m. Wednesday morning, the county released an update with 284 more votes, bringing the total counted to 7,999.
Grand County Clerk and Recorder Sara Rosene wrote in an email that there are still ballots to be collected and counted. They include nine potential Grand County ballots that were placed in drop boxes outside of the county, 10 ballots collected from the general mail facility in Denver, 29 ballots in the “cure batch” that are held back with rejected ballots to ensure people cannot determine how specific voters voted and 124 rejected ballots, which voters now have a chance to cure.
The county will count those ballots Nov. 17, the day after the deadline for voters to cure their ballots. Rosene said all counties in Colorado will then go through a risk-limiting audit and canvassing process, followed by any automatic or requested recounts and finally statewide certification.
Tuesday’s counting process took longer than that of other years because of the amount of write-in votes, Rosene said, particularly for Grand County treasurer, which went uncontested this year. Current interim treasurer Marcy Wheatley received over 450 write-in votes, but one election worker said there were hundreds of joke write-ins as well, on top of a few write-in votes in other races.
For any ballot with a write-in vote, the ballot scanning system sets it aside from its batch of 100 ballots so election judges to make a determination. Judges decide if a write-in vote is qualified or unqualified, or if the person listed is a certified candidate or not. If the vote is qualified, then judges also have to determine if the vote meets criteria like including the candidate’s first and last name.
“They have to make determination on every single one (with a write-in vote),” Rosene said. “I’d say close to 50% of every batch — not every batch — but close to 50% of every batch has something within in that (treasurer) race.”
Four ballots were marked in such a way to make the voter’s intent unclear, and protocol required the election workers to quarantine two batches of 100 votes while they sought additional guidance from state voting officials. The issues were resolved on those four ballots, and those 200 ballots were included in Wednesday night’s vote update.
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