Voters opt for Lucero, Ranson, Diller and 1A

Local voters went to the polls in large numbers Nov. 4, deciding on four key local government candidates and one taxation issue, and Archuleta County Clerk June Madrid said the numbers are likely record breaking.

Considering a possible 72-percent voter turnout in the county, Madrid said, “That’s the highest voter turnout at a polling place we’ve ever had. We had a lot of people at the polls.”

According to Madrid, the final vote tallies will be calculated during the coming days, as all results remain unofficial until Nov. 12.

Nevertheless, Madrid said the numbers produced thus far indicate decisive victories for Republican District 1 county commissioner candidate John Ranson, and Democrat District 2 candidate Clifford Lucero.

In the treasurer’s race, Republican Betty Diller took the seat with a 430-vote margin. However, due to alleged inconsistencies and aberrations in the collecting and counting of votes, write-in challenger Kelly Evans said she is not ready to concede defeat.

“Due to unusual circumstances, I am not going to concede. I may ask for a recount; a recount may be in order,” Evans said.

Evans alleges that about 1,000 absentee ballots had gone initially uncounted, and Madrid’s reporting during election night appeared inaccurate compared to the actual number of absentee ballots cast.

Madrid explained numbers reported throughout the evening were not intended to represent a final or official tally, and Evans’ supporters misinterpreted information as such. Moreover, when alerted to the possibility of omitted or miscounted absentee ballots, Madrid said she tasked staff with hand counting absentee ballots to ensure the accuracy of the count.

“I think we have an accurate count,” Madrid said.

But Evans said there are other issues.

For example, Evans alleges that a number of votes cast as write-ins were disqualified, and she wants to know how many of those exist and the reason for the disqualification.

Second, Evans alleges there is a “big gap” when one compares total voter turnout in the treasurer’s race as compared to the district attorney or commissioner races. The gap, Evans said, “Leads us to believe there were a lot of votes that weren’t counted,” Evans said.

Then, there are statutory questions such as whether a misspelling of Evans’ name constitutes grounds for disqualifying the vote, or whether the vote, despite the misspelling, clearly shows “demonstrated intent.”

Evans said she will examine numbers soon to be produced by Madrid before making a formal recount request. In the interim, Evans said she thinks there are enough discrepancies to swing the vote to her favor, and until shown otherwise she will not yield.

“It’s not a done deal; the fat lady hasn’t sung and I’m not ready to quit yet.”

In the district attorney’s race, Republican Russell Wasley pounded Democrat Todd Risberg in Archuleta County, with 3,170 votes to Risberg’s 2,632. However, the district attorney’s race spans three counties — Archuleta, La Plata and San Juan — and the initial combined results show Risberg the districtwide winner, with 17,672 votes to Wasley’s 12,744.

Lastly, a question whether to continue the 2 percent sales tax currently shared between the town and county passed handily — 3,904 votes to 2,059.

During Tuesday’s general election, 6,624 of 9,281 registered electors cast their ballot, resulting in the 72 percent turnout figure.

According to Madrid, absentee ballots totaled 3,413; early voting, 1,696; Vote Center One, 426; Vote Center, Two 431; and Vote Center Three, 658.

Madrid said although she prefers to gauge voter participation by comparing actual turnout to registered voters, she said the Colorado Secretary of State’s office prefers to compare actual turnout against the number of “active voters.” Active voters are defined as voters who participated in the last election. That said, as of Oct. 31, 2008, there were 7,551 active voters in Archuleta County. Using Archuleta’s active voter number, participation in this year’s general election could jump to as high as 88 percent.

Local results at a glance

District 1 County Commissioner
John Ranson (R) — 3,907
Ron Chacey (D) — 2,317

District 2 County Commissioner
Clifford Lucero (D) — 2,644
Marion Francis (U) — 1,827
Ray Keyawa (R) — 1,416
Natalie Carpenter (U) — 411

Archuleta County Treasurer
Betty Diller (R) — 2,725
Kelly Evans (write-in) —2,295

District Attorney
Russell Wasley (R) — 3,170
Todd Risberg (D) — 2,632

Referred Issue 1A
Yes — 3,904
No — 2,059

U.S. President
John McCain (R) — 3,618
Barack Obama (D) — 2,822

U.S. Senate
Bob Schaffer (R) — 3,193
Mark Udall (D) — 2,776

U.S. Representative
John Salazar (D) — 3,576
Wayne Wolf (R) — 2,754