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Provisional ballots boost open space referendum

Matt Zalaznick

Those are the results after Eagle County election officials Thursday tallied 388 “provisional” ballots leftover from Election Day, Nov 5. The only one of those tight races in which results changed from election night was the open-space tax, where a two-vote loss became a 51-vote victory Thursday.

The “provisional ballots” were cast by voters whose names did not appear on election rolls at their polling places. Their signatures and addresses had to be verified before their votes were counted.

Candidates and voters complained about the delay that occurred in counties and districts across the state. But Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Sara Fisher said the “the transient nature of our community” conflicts with the state Legislature’s desire to let every eligible voter cast a ballot.



“Everybody’s looking for instantaneous results in a system that’s very complex,” Fisher said “What would speed up the process is if everybody updated their voter registration records when they moved.”

And “moved” means across the street, from Edwards to East Vail, or from Kit Carson County to Eagle County or between any two locations, Fisher said.



Each provisional ballot, which was sealed on Election Day, required time-consuming research, including contacting other counties and researching driver’s license records, Fisher said.

“Each ballot takes research. We figured it took 10 to 15 minutes per ballot to research and we had 400 ballots to research,” she said.

Sixteen ballots could not be verified, she said.



Aside from the open space tax, the counting of the provisional ballots did not significantly change results in other Eagle County races. For instance, the percentages of victory and defeat in the two Vail tax questions remained just about the same.

The results in the race for Eagle County Commissioner, won by incumbent Republican Tom Stone, changed only a few tenths of a percent. Stone held on to 45 percent of the vote while Democratic challenger Gerry Sandberg remained at just under 40 percent. Independent candidate Laurie Bower’s share inched up from 15.2 percent to 15.4 percent.

Eagle County Sheriff-elect Joe Hoy was leading his challenger, Deputy Bill Kaufman, by 1,000 votes on election night. After the provisional ballots were counted, he was still about 1,000 votes ahead.

And a tax on building supplies used in Avon was drubbed on election night, when it got only 40 percent of the vote. After the provisional ballots were counted, the beating was just as bad.

The final results in five races that could have been swung by 388 provisional ballots verified Thursday:

Vail conference center tax

Yes 851 No 806

Vail property tax increase

Yes 796 No 851

Open space tax

Yes 5,658 No 5,607

House District 56 (Eagle, Summit, Lake counties)

Carl Miller 9,992

Heather Lemon 9,682

Avon Town Council, top four finishers win seats

Ron Wolfe 404 votes

Mac McDevitt 370

Brian Sipes 347

Debbie Buckley 312

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.


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