AVON, Colorado - Voters sent a firm election-day message about two of the three seats on the Avon Town Council. But it may take some time to determine just who the third council member is.
The Nov. 6 election in Avon had five candidates. The three with the most votes earned seats on the council. Jennie Fancher and Buz Reynolds took the top two spots. Just three votes separated Fancher and Reynolds. About 200 votes behind the top pair came Jake Wolf and Matt Gennett, who were separated by a similar margin - a mere four votes.
But the results of that third and final spot on the council are more ambiguous than the top spot, since a shift of just a few votes could mean the difference between victory and defeat.
While the vast majority of ballots have been counted, the election process requires those ballots to be certified by a "canvassing board" made up of representatives of the local Democratic and Republican parties. In addition, every election has a number of "provisional" ballots.
Provisional ballots are used if, for instance, a voter has sent a mail ballot but still shows up to vote at a polling place. People are allowed to vote, but only one of those ballots count. Provisional ballots are also used when voters don't bring identification with them to the polls. Again, people are allowed to vote, but those ballots don't count until Simonton and her staff confirm those people are, in fact, eligible to vote.
In a Wednesday e-mail, Simonton wrote that her crew hadn't yet had time to determine how many provisional ballots there are, or how many might apply to the Avon Town Council race.
After that post-election work, if a race is still as tight as the one between Gennett and Wolf appears to be, the state's recount law takes effect.
The website of Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, which bills itself as a "nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that advocates for verifiable, transparent, and accurate elections," has summarized election laws in all 50 states. According to that group's website, there are a number of ways and methods to re-count votes. In Colorado, a mandatory recount is triggered by a margin of victory of .5 percent or less.
In the case of a multi-candidate race, the margin for recall is determined by "the candidate who won the election with the least votes and the candidate who lost the election with the most votes," divided by the votes cast for "the candidate who won the election with the least votes."
Another e-mail from Simonton indicated she hadn't yet determined if the Gennett- Wolf race falls into that legal territory.
However, new council members won't be sworn in until Nov. 27. Since the ballot has to be certified a few days earlier, it's likely we'll have a winner in time for the swearing-in ceremony.
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.