Thursday, November 5, 2015

UPDATE: Toll won't ask for a recount in Manitou mayoral race

Posted By on Thu, Nov 5, 2015 at 5:27 PM

Coreen Toll says she will waive her right to request a recount (and pay for the service) if the election does not swing in her favor. Toll is currently losing the race for Manitou Springs mayor by 10 votes, though additional votes could alter the count.

“I will happily go with whatever the count is,” she says. 

At this point, a difference of five votes or less would trigger an automatic recount.


click to enlarge Coreen Toll watches the election results at The Keg in Manitou Springs last night. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Coreen Toll watches the election results at The Keg in Manitou Springs last night.
Manitou Springs residents may have to wait two more weeks, until Nov. 20, to find out who their next mayor will be.

Nicole Nicoletta currently has a 10-vote lead over opponent Coreen Toll — 877 votes to 867 votes. That margin could shift in the next few weeks if more votes are counted. El Paso County Clerk and Recorder spokesperson Ryan Parsell explains that there are really two factors at play. First, 13 votes are in limbo because the ballots either lacked a signature, or the signature had a discrepancy with records. Those ballots could be counted if voters respond to a letter by Nov. 12. Parsell says his office does not know how the 13 ballots would affect the mayoral vote totals.

Second, the clerk's office sent 24 ballots overseas to eligible voters. Only one has been returned thus far, but the ballots can be counted if they are received by Nov. 12. Parsell says it's unlikely, based on past elections, that all 23 ballots will come rolling in. But some certainly could. 

Given the close margin, one might assume that an automatic recount would be performed. But at this point, that's not going to happen. There's some complicated math that determines when an automatic recount is needed (you can check it out in the press release below), but the way the vote stands right now, Toll and Nicoletta would need to be separated by five votes or fewer to trigger a recount.

Parsell says either candidate — or anyone — could request a recount if an automatic recount is not required. But the requester would have to pay for the recount. Parsell says his office has not calculated the price tag for a recount, but it would likely be thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars.

The clerk's office has until Nov. 20 to issue final results for the race, though Parsell says the office is often able to release the information a few days early.

Toll appeared to be winning the election by a slim margin throughout most of election night, but the tide turned in the late hours, with Nicoletta taking the lead. Turnout in Manitou Springs was a respectable 55 percent (1,947 ballots returned of 3,535 issued). About 47 percent of eligible Manitou voters cast a vote for mayor (1,686.)

click to enlarge Nicole Nicoletta has a 10 vote lead. - CHRIS COTTER
  • Chris Cotter
  • Nicole Nicoletta has a 10 vote lead.
Clerk’s Office Releases Final Unofficial Count, Outlines Recount Procedures

[Colorado Springs, Colo. – November 3, 2015] The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office has counted all ballots returned by 7:00 p.m. today. The results now posted to represent the final unofficial results. Those results will stand until any ballots from military and overseas voters or voters with signature or ID issues—who have an additional eight days to return or cure their ballot—and the official canvass is complete.

Due to the closeness of the race for Manitou Springs Mayor, the Clerk’s Office would like to explain the process for any potential automatic recount.

First, the official determination for a recount cannot be made until the deadline for military and overseas voters or ballot curing has passed and the Clerk’s Office completes the official canvass. Under Colorado law, the deadline for military and overseas ballots to be returned to the Clerk’s Office is November 12 (eight days plus one day for the observance of Veteran’s Day). The deadline for the Clerk’s Office to complete the official canvass is November 20.

Under Colorado law, an automatic recount is only triggered when “the difference between the highest number of votes cast in that election contest and the next highest number of votes cast in that election contest is less than or equal to one-half of one percent of the highest vote cast in that election contest.”(C.R.S 1-10.5-101) This is not the same as candidates or a question being separated by a 0.5% difference of the percentages reported. The Clerk’s Office is aware that there will be some confusion over this difference and will readily help any members of the media understand under what circumstances a race could go to an automatic recount.

The following example may help. If candidate 1 receives 500 votes for 50.20% and candidate 2 receives 496 votes for 49.79%, the casual observer would infer that an automatic recount is imminent. However, the 0.5% threshold is calculated off of the 500 votes earned by candidate 1. In this example, 0.5% of the votes earned by candidate 1 is three votes, so candidate 2 would need to have three votes separating the two, not 4. In this example, the results would not trigger an automatic recount.

If an automatic recount is triggered, the jurisdiction affected is responsible for paying for the recount. A candidate may request a recount, but a candidate may not request a non-automatic recount before the official canvass. Also, under that circumstance the person requesting the recount is responsible to pay for the recount. 

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