HPatience with provisionals
That’s when 93 provisional ballots cast in the town’s four precincts are expected to have been verified and counted.
According to preliminary election results, Vail’s registered voters narrowly rejected a property tax increase by 61 votes; they also passed a package of lodging and sales tax increases to fund a conference center by a mere 23 vote.
Both decisions could change, depending on how many of Vail’s provisional ballots are determined valid and how those voters voted.
Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Sara Fisher, who will leave elected office in January, said Wednesday provisional ballots – a total of 388 were cast in Eagle County – have to be researched one-by-one and then reviewed by a panel of election judges.
“We have to make sure that the person who voted really is who they portrayed to be and that they were indeed registered to vote,” Fisher said, adding that people who have recently relocated, as well as those who assumed they were registered automatically when renewing their driver’s license, make up a majority of provisional voters.
Fisher said she plans to have the county’s provisional ballots researched and ready for the judges to look at by Nov. 13.
Unless provisional ballots are cause for a re-count – in Vail a four-vote difference would necessitate that – final results of Vail’s issues can be expected by Nov. 14, Fisher said.
That also should be the day the race three other races ultimately will be decided, including:
– House District 56 between Heather Lemon and Carl Miller.
– Eagle County’s open-space tax.
– The Avon Town Council.
While it creates more work for her, irritates local journalists and for one week mutes the voice of the voters, Fisher said the 2002 Colorado Law that made provisional voting possible encourages voting while cutting down on opportunities for voters’ fraud with a carrot-and-stick method.
“Hopefully those extra 20 minutes provisional voters have to spend at the polls filling out the affidavit is enough to have them say “I’ll keep my registration current from now on,'” Fisher said. “And if we can’t verify the information given in the affidavit, we don’t count the vote.”
Back in Vail, residents and officials can’t do anything but wait and guess.
Vail Town Manager Bob McLaurin said he thinks the preliminary results won’t be changed by 93 votes. But because of that, he said, he didn’t get much sleep Tuesday night.
“I laid awake trying to figure out what to cut out of the budget,” he said Wednesday. “And I have to figure out how to build a convention center.”
Merv Lapin, a Vail resident and businessman and one of a few vocal critics of both Vail measures, said he thinks the demographic make-up of provisional voters may change the open-space tax election outcome but likely won’t impact the Vail issues.
“I think statistically they will stay the same,” he said. “I don’t think 93 votes will break the trend.”
Charlene Marquez, a 30-year Vail resident, said she can wait if that means the outcome will be correct.
“If we can’t know the results in a reasonable time, then I’ll be upset,” she said. “But I much rather have every one vote counted and counted correctly than not, and that is going to take time.”
Vail businessman and resident Joe Staufer said Thursday he isn’t too concerned about the impromptu waiting period imposed by provisional ballots.
“At least we don’t have to have the Supreme Court decide this for us,” he said in reference to the 2000 presidential election.
Geraldine Haldner covers Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff. She can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 602, or at email@example.com.