ballots 2

Poll workers count ballots in the 2021 Coordinated Election at the County Courthouse on Nov. 2, 2021. 

How an 18-vote margin could affect election results

While two out of the three contested seats on the school board have a clear winner after most of the ballots were tabulated on election night, one of the seats has a tight margin that could go either way.

Eric Kelley is leading Dawn Schieldt in the District F race by only 18 votes according to preliminary results, but the fate of the race is in limbo until all of the ballots from the signature curing process have been tabulated.

Ballots with invalid signatures, as well as a small number of accepted ballots that have not yet been counted, could still tip the election. But the results will not be known until after the deadline at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10, when voters whose ballots were rejected because of invalid signatures are required to complete the curing process.

If the margin between Schieldt and Kelley is still within the statutory requirement for an automatic recount (0.5%), then that will happen after the election certification process.

On the other hand, Alice Murphy was leading Andrew Neal by 602 votes in District C and Sarah Fishering maintained a 565 vote lead over Cortney Loyd in District E.

Kelley said that the closeness of the election was “healthy” when asked about the closeness of the election, but he hoped that the public would remain confident in the election results.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s that close because then hopefully it doesn’t throw a shadow of a doubt in the middle of it,” Kelley said.

In a statement, Schieldt thanked her fellow slate members and took an optimistic tone about the future.

“This is not a loss but a new beginning. We will continue to work together for what we believe. Some things have to end for better things to begin. Cortney and Andrew I love you and I am so proud of you. Let’s keep up the good work,” Schieldt wrote.

Approximately 60 voters with invalid signatures have eight days after election to complete the curing process to verify their signatures. The curing process can be completed via text messages, by email or in-person at the Montrose County Clerk and Recorder office.

All voters with invalid signatures have been notified in the mail and with an email, if an email address is listed in the system.

Curing signatures over text was a new program released by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office last year. Voters can text “Colorado” to 2VOTE (28638) to complete the process, including signing an affidavit and attaching a photo of a photo identification card.

Between 100-200 additional ballots that have been received but not yet scanned will be processed along with the cured ballots.

Tressa Guynes, Montrose County Clerk and Recorder, explained that ballots that do not require signature curing are culled and grouped with the ballots that need to be cured to assure voter anonymity to the poll workers.

Ballots that are not cured will be transferred, unopened, to the District Attorney’s office.

If the margin between Schieldt and Kelley remains less than half of a percentage point apart — as the vote currently stands, the percentage difference is 0.3% — Colorado law will require an automatic recount.

The recount process will take several days of intense work, Guynes said, which entails rescanning all of the ballots and setting up the process again for the election.

The recount would happen after the election itself is certified. The statutory deadline for election certification and submitting an abstract of the votes is Nov. 24 and a recount would need to be completed by Dec. 7. Guynes hoped that the certification process could be completed sooner, so if a recount is required, the results could be finalized before Thanksgiving.

Anna Lynn Winfrey is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.

Anna Lynn Winfrey is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.

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