Ballot box

Aside from a small glitch counting one ballot, the Las Animas County Clerk and Recorder says the November 5 election went off smoothly. In fact, the crowd in the clerk’s office broke into cheers when it was announced that Ballot Issue 4B, the school bond funding measure, won by a significant margin.

“Everybody was so excited and laughing and clapping, it was very exciting, that was the biggie,” said Las Animas County Clerk and Recorder Peach Vigil. But those cheers represented a long day for election staff, with everyone working from 7 a.m. to at least 7 p.m. “I’m very proud of my team,” Vigil said, “and I would like to give congrats to my chief, Joseph Mestas and my entire staff of (election) judges, they do a very good job, they are very diligent.”

The ballots were counted under the watchful eyes of a bipartisan team. They found about 20 ballots with signature discrepancies, where the signature on the back of the ballot envelope did not match the signature on the registration information. But that doesn’t mean the vote is not counted. “If they decide that the signature on the envelope doesn’t match the signature on file, we generate a letter and send it to the voter and say that you have eight days until after the election to come in, sign the affidavit that this was actually you who returned the ballot,” Vigil said.

All votes, including military and overseas ballots, had to be counted by Wed., November 13, and Vigil said no race was close enough where late ballots would make any difference in the outcome. “We got lucky this time because I’ve seen it come in by two votes difference,” she said.

A few voters took advantage of Colorado law, which allows Election Day registration and voting. But most ballots arrived via mail or were dropped off early, and lines were short at the Elections Office in the county courthouse. “So what we do is we have our score system, which is statewide, scanning the bar code, that pulls up the image for the voter and that’s where they verify the signature. When it’s verified, they put them in batches, send them back to the counting room and then they’re scanned into voting system itself, “ said Vigil.

And while that small glitch with one vote did hold up results for a short while, it was all resolved in good time and the vote was duly counted.

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