Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Colorado Springs Forward endorses VanderWerf

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 2:02 PM

Stan VanderWerf
  • Stan VanderWerf
Colorado Springs Forward is endorsing Stan VanderWerf for District 3 El Paso County Commissioner. VanderWerf is the owner and president of two companies: Advanced Capitol LLC, an aerospace defense consulting firm, and CEM-Tek USA, a 3D printing company. The seat is currently held by term-limited Sallie Clark. 

CSF previously endorsed former Colorado House Minority Leader Mark Waller for the District 2 race and Scott Turner, a retired banker with experience on many community and governmental boards, in the District 4 race. All are Republicans.

The Political Action Committee of the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs, another influencer in local elections, previously announced its endorsements of Waller, VanderWerf, and Turner. [Not sure what district you're in? Check the map here.] 

In related news, County Commissioner Amy Lathen recently announced that she would leave office early to take the helm as executive director of Colorado Springs Forward. Lathen's planned July 11 exit means that a vacancy committee will pick a replacement to fill her District 2 seat, following the June primary election. Given that there is no Democrat in the race, it seems likely that the winner of the Republican primary will be chosen.

Colorado Springs Forward announces

El Paso County Commissioner District 3 endorsement

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 24, 2016 – With three veteran county commissioners retiring from the board due to term limits, the November elections will be crucial for the future of El Paso County. Colorado Springs Forward (CSF) is grateful for the long record of community service by Commissioners Sallie Clark, Dennis Hisey and Amy Lathen.

After extensive discussions with Stan VanderWerf and Karen Cullen – both candidates for El Paso County Commissioner in District 3 – Colorado Springs Forward is satisfied that both of these individuals have shown a deep understanding of business development throughout the region and the impacts of sound, local public policy.

The CSF board of directors believes that both of these candidates are strong choices for the citizens of District 3 and represent the pillars embraced by Colorado Springs Forward.

However, CSF’s board is most pleased with the significant and diverse experience as well as the depth of knowledge shown by VanderWerf. His history of leadership and ability to articulate sound principles, which support economic development, have led CSF to endorse his candidacy for County Commissioner District 3.

“We appreciate Stan VanderWerf’s thorough research into local issues which are impacting the community right now and will continue to impact it long into the future,” said Lynette Crow-Iverson, chairwoman of the CSF board of directors. “We feel he is the best choice to influence local policy and business development.”

In February, Colorado Springs Forward endorsed Mark Waller for El Paso County Commissioner District 2, and Scott Turner for El Paso County Commissioner District 4.


Colorado Springs Forward is a non-profit, broad-based alliance of people and organizations that care deeply about and are committed to the success of the Pikes Peak region. Colorado Springs Forward was formed by a group of community leaders in April 2014, to re-establish Colorado Springs as the most inviting and respected city in which to live, work and play. Board members include: Lynette Crow-Iverson (Chair), Phil Lane, Kathy Loo, Douglas Stimple, Jariah Walker, and Tom Neppl.

Colorado Springs Forward’s mission is to unite the citizens, communities and organizations of the Pikes Peak region to educate, collaborate and coordinate so that, together, they can effectively address the challenges and opportunities faced by our region. They will lead with words and actions, with a sense of urgency, so that together we can reach our full potential and an excellent quality of life. For more information, visit ColoradoSpringsForward.org.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Keyser back on the ballot, others still trying

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 5:31 PM

Jon Keyser
  • Jon Keyser
Former state Rep. Jon Keyser is back from the dead.

Earlier this week, it was announced that the U.S. Senate candidate failed to make the Republican primary ballot. Keyser needed 1,500 valid petition signatures from Republican voters in each of Colorado's seven Congressional districts, for a total of 10,500 signatures, to make the primary ballot for the seat, but the Colorado Secretary of State's Office announced that he fell 86 signatures short of the mark. Keyser, however, legally challenged the ruling and won. 

At issue was the signatures collected by a single petition gatherer, who had not updated the address on his voter registration as legally required. The petitioner had recently moved. Thus, any signatures gathered by the petitioner that listed his new address were not counted as valid.

The court, however, ruled that: " Mr. Keyser substantially complied with the Colorado Election Code."

That ruling meant the signatures were counted and Keyser made the ballot. He joins El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn and Jack Graham, a former Colorado State Athletic director.

Two other candidates, Robert Blaha, a Colorado Springs businessman, and former Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, also failed to make the ballot yesterday due to insufficient valid signatures. Frazier told the Denver Post he would appeal the decision.

Blaha released the following statement:

Late this afternoon we were notified by the Secretary of State that our petition was insufficient, and we are currently evaluating the Secretary of State's report. After we have concluded a thorough evaluation, we will have further comment regarding our next steps in seeking the Republican nomination for U.S Senate. We believe that after our review, the final analysis will validate that we are in substantial compliance.

The winner of the primary will go on to challenge U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, in November. Unsurprisingly, the Colorado Democratic Party has been delighted by the circus on the Republican side of the race. Chris Meagher, spokesman for the Colorado Democratic Party, released the following statement after Keyser won his legal challenge:

After being handpicked by the national Republican Party and blowing off grassroots Republicans, Jon Keyser had to sue his way onto the Republican primary ballot. Now he's back to limping through the primary with no momentum and practically no money, while Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier prepare their own lawsuits to get back on the ballot.

Keyser was anointed by the same national Republicans who have spent years creating gridlock in Washington, and like a typical politician Keyser has refused to take positions on issues that matter to Colorado while blowing off the grassroots to jaunt off to locales like Las Vegas in an attempt to raise money from billionaire establishment megadonors. Keyser has pledged to support Donald Trump if he’s the nominee and it’s clear that if elected to the Senate, Jon Keyser would only add to the dysfunction in Washington.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Surprise! Bennet and Gardner are actually pretty bipartisan

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2016 at 4:06 PM

Study: Sen. Michael Bennet isn't that partisan.
  • Study: Sen. Michael Bennet isn't that partisan.
According to a "non-partisan ranking of how often each Member of Congress works across party lines," performed by the Lugar Center and Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy, you are right to think that Congress has devolved into partisan bickering.

"We hear often from commentators who claim that we are experiencing an extraordinarily partisan era," it states. "Regrettably, our analysis bears this out to a large extent. You can see by the charts that the last three Congresses have yielded very low scores on the Bipartisan Index. The 112th and 113th Congresses had the two lowest scores among the eleven Congresses that we have analyzed so far."

But there is some good news for those who would like to see politicians be a little less political. According to the study, Sen. Michael Bennet, who is facing more than a dozen Republican challengers in the 2016 election, isn't the unyielding liberal that Republicans make him out to be. Nor is Colorado's other senator, Cory Gardner, unwilling to compromise.

The study found Bennet to be the 23rd most bipartisan Senator.  Gardner was rated slightly below Bennett, as the 27th most bipartisan. Remember, since there are 100 members of the Senate, that means that both Colorado's senators rate as pretty cooperative — at least compared to their peers.

The ratings for the U.S. House of Representatives are perhaps more disappointing for those who believe in cooperation. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican, takes the crown for Colorado in this rating, coming in as the 25th most bipartisan representative (out of 435 members). Other Colorado Republicans rate much lower: Rep. Scott Tipton is 140th, Rep. Doug Lamborn is 348th, and Rep. Ken Buck is 397th. Of the Democrats: Rep. Ed Perlmutter is 62nd, Rep. Diana DeGette is 108th, and Rep. Jared Polis is 142nd.

The study used a unique method to rate legislators:

"We sought to develop an objective measure of how well members of opposite parties work with one another using bill sponsorship and co-sponsorship data. We gravitated toward bill sponsorships and co-sponsorships for two reasons. First, they allowed us to construct a highly objective measure of partisan and bipartisan behavior. Second, sponsorship and co-sponsorship behavior is especially revealing of partisan tendencies. Members’ voting decisions are often contextual and can be influenced by parliamentary circumstances. Sponsorships and co-sponsorships, in contrast, exist as very carefully considered declarations of where a legislator stands on an issue.

The Bipartisan Index measures the frequency with which a Member co-sponsors a bill introduced by the opposite party and the frequency with which a Member’s own bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party.

It is essential to understand that one cannot get a clear and fair picture simply by tallying up bipartisan sponsorships and co-sponsorships in a single Congress. The main problem is that behavior related to sponsoring and co-sponsoring bills differs greatly depending on whether a member is in the majority or minority. To overcome this problem and give our index greater historical value, we constructed a 20-year baseline of data to which majority and minority members could be compared. One also must make decisions about how to compare members who co-sponsor a lot of bills with those who co-sponsor only a few; whether and how to give credit for an increasing number of bipartisan co-sponsors on a bill; whether to include commemorative legislation and resolutions; and how to handle members who introduce a very small number of bills or none at all. We tested solutions to each of these questions and others before settling on what we believe is an effective formula for measuring bipartisanship."

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Caucus system not popular with local Republicans

Posted By on Wed, Mar 2, 2016 at 5:44 PM

Last night's caucuses weren't popular with citizens. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Last night's caucuses weren't popular with citizens.

The caucus process isn't popular in El Paso County, where many Democrats found themselves holding the process outside last night due to overcrowding and Republicans weren't able to record a preference for a presidential candidate.

Daniel Cole, executive director of the El Paso County Republican Party, said that the No. 1 resolution from last night may turn out to be a call for the end of the caucus system and a return to a regular primary. As packets are returned from the 242 county precincts, he says he's already noticed 16 separate resolutions calling for an end to the caucuses. Many are marked as having been approved unanimously.

"More than 90% of Colorado Republicans never participate in the caucus process," he stated in a press release. "I would expect them to prefer a primary, but it's remarkable that so many caucus participants would also like to see a change." 

In a later conversation with the Indy, he said the only resolution that may end up getting more votes is one supporting "the sanctity of life." 

Colorado last had a presidenital preference primary in 2000, but abandoned the system because it was deemed too expensive for the state. Parties pay for caucuses, while the state pays for elections. 
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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Dude, where's my caucus?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 1, 2016 at 4:18 PM

It's Super Tuesday, the day Democrat and Republican party faithful in Colorado Springs head to their caucuses to take part in the political process.

While a little baffling — and on the Republican side, especially, anticlimactic — the caucus is nevertheless a way to show your support for the candidates of your choosing, and take part in selecting the next president. But first, you must find your caucus. And that may be difficult this year. 

As I explained in a recent story, your precinct may have changed, and that, in turn, means your caucus may have changed. Before you head out tonight, you'll really want to check. In order to ensure you show up at the right place, you can go to gazette.com/2016-caucus or call the county clerk's office at 575-8683 (the office will be open until 8 p.m. tonight).
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Friday, February 12, 2016

Democrat enters Commissioner District 2 race

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 12:07 PM

Michael Seraphin
  • Michael Seraphin
A Democrat has entered the race for El Paso County Commissioner in District 2.

Michael Seraphin is running for the seat that's currently held by the term-limited Amy Lathen. Seraphin, the former Colorado Division of Wildlife Public Information Officer, says he is not a traditional Democrat, and holds some conservative views, particularly on guns. Still, he'll face an uphill battle. No Democrat has won a race for a Commissioner seat in El Paso County since 1970.

Seraphin is the fourth candidate to announce for the seat. The other candidates, all Republicans, are Tim Geitner, Sherrie Gibson and Mark Waller.
Michael Seraphin Announces Run for County Commission

FALCON, Colo. - Former Colorado Division of Wildlife Public Information Officer Michael Seraphin announced today that he is a candidate for the El Paso County Commission in District 2.

"I hope voters make history for the first time in nearly 50-years by electing a county commissioner who doesn't have an "R" behind their name," said Seraphin. "It's time for a change from one-party politics."

Seraphin has never run for office before.

He said the reason he entered the 2016 race is because it is time to elect someone who will make hard decisions to fix local problems, instead of grandstanding about national politics in an effort to boost their own ambitions," he said.

District 2 is the fastest growing area in the county. Infrastructure, school funding, public safety, and water use planning are not getting the attention they deserve.

"Every day I hear people complain about how government has let them down," he said.

Seraphin believes residents in Falcon, Peyton, Calhan, and the rest of District 2 want someone who will listen to their needs; make decisions that will protect their property rights and values; and not cave-in to pressure from big-money politics.

Seraphin describes himself as a fiscal conservative who is socially responsible and strives for more efficient government. "I'm sort of a cross between a Democrat, Independent, and conservative all rolled into one. I own guns and believe in gun rights, but on the other hand, I am an environmentalist who understands the dangers of fracking and wants to protect our clean air and clean water. I don't see those issues as mutually exclusive along party lines."

Smaller government is not just about taxes, he added. It's about less regulation, too. "One of the first things I will do is cut red tape by repealing dozens of unnecessary, outdated regulations."

"I am not a lawyer or a professional politician. I don't have any desire to be a State Senator, a Congressman, Attorney General, or run for national office. I am just an ordinary citizen who thinks it's time we focus on the local issues we have right here in El Paso County."

Seraphin is a resident of Falcon who has lived in Colorado for the better part of 35 years. He was a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife from 1998 until his retirement in 2013.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Peggy Littleton joins crowded U.S. Senate race

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 at 12:04 PM

Peggy Littleton will run for U.S. Senate. - FILE PHOTO
  • Peggy Littleton will run for U.S. Senate.
Peggy Littleton has joined a crowded field seeking to be the Republican Party's nominee for U.S. Senate.

If chosen, she would run against incumbent U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat. Other contenders for the Republican nomination include state Sen. Tim Neville, state Rep. Jon Keyser, and businessmen Robert Blaha and Jerry Natividad, among many others. Littleton's fellow El Paso County Commissioner and frequent ally, Darryl Glenn, is also in the race.

Littleton has served as an El Paso County Commissioner since January 2011. Before that, she spent seven years on the Colorado State Board of Education. In her county role, Littleton was the first commissioner to call for the resignation of Sheriff Terry Maketa, and was active in fire/flood recovery efforts. She has also distinguished herself as a fierce gun-rights proponent. (I wrote about her ties to groups allied with Cliven Bundy — whose family members are currently participating in the Oregon standoff — here.) 

Littleton has a long reputation as a deeply conservative Republican. She homeschooled her kids, campaigned for a delegate spot in 2004 as a "Blond Babe for Bush," funded abstinence-only education when she was on the Board of Education, and was a leader in building a new gun range in the county. You can read my short biography of her from 2014 here.

Littleton is portraying herself as an outsider, both because of her conservative beliefs and because she is a woman.

"If you want another Washington good ol’ boy, I’m not your gal,” Littleton stated in a press release announcing her candidacy. “But if you believe, like I do, that America is a great nation and our best days are ahead, I ask for your prayers and your vote. We need safety, security and hope for the future.”

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Local Republicans concerned about mass shooting possibility

Posted By on Tue, Dec 15, 2015 at 12:21 PM

  • El Paso County Republican Party
  • Jeff Hays
El Paso County Republican Party Chair Jeff Hays wants local Republicans to know that he's beefing up security for tonight's debate watch party.

Hays says he's concerned about safety after a Fountain woman called Planned Parenthood and threatened to shoot Republicans. (Planned Parenthood, whose Colorado Springs office was the site of a recent mass shooting, reported the call to police who arrested the woman.) Hays says he's also concerned that Loring Wirbel made a post saying Donald Trump supporters should be told they would be shot. Wirbel, who freelances stories for the Independent’s music section, resigned his position as co-chair of the Colorado Springs chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union due to uproar about the comments.

Hays sent out the following email to local Republicans:

My fellow Republicans,

At El Paso County Republican Headquarters, we are doing everything possible to ensure our constituents’ safety. We are also calling out the hypocritical left.

There have been two serious threats against local Republicans within the last week. First, a Fountain woman was arrested after threatening to “shoot up the Republican Party.” Then, the chairman of the Colorado Springs ACLU was forced to resign after saying, “I will have to shoot you [Trump supporters] before election day.”

To read about the El Paso County Republican Party’s central role in bringing the ACLU comments to light, see these stories in The Gazette, The Washington Post, The New York Post, and The Daily Mail, to list only a few publications that ran articles exposing the left’s hypocrisy.

As a professional risk analyst, I have always insisted on security precautions at our meetings and events. We are bolstering them now. Rest assured there will be robust security at our debate watch party tomorrow, Tuesday, December 15, at Stargazers Theatre, 10 S. Parkside Dr., Colorado Springs CO, 80910. Doors open at 6:00 PM and the debate begins at 7:00. The event is free and open to the public.

The El Paso County Republican Party remains vigilant, but we need your help. We are a volunteer organization, and we receive no funding from the Republican National Committee. To join with us in advancing the cause of freedom, please sign up for a sustaining, monthly contribution of $20 here.


Jeff Hays
Chairman, El Paso County Republican Party

P.S. We are proud to support Toys for Tots every winter. Run by the US Marine Corps, Toys for Tots distributes toys, books, and other meaningful gifts to children who may not otherwise receive anything for Christmas. Our drive ends Wednesday, December 16. We will be accepting new items in their original packaging at Tuesday's debate watch party.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Official results in: Manitou elects Nicoletta mayor

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2015 at 1:59 PM

Nicole Nicoletta - CHRIS COTTER
  • Chris Cotter
  • Nicole Nicoletta
Nicole Nicoletta will be the next mayor of Manitou Springs, having won the election by 10 votes.

Nicoletta edged out opponent, Manitou Mayor Pro Tem Coreen Toll, 878 votes to 868. The vote is not close enough to trigger an automatic recount, and Toll has said she won't request one

Here is the scoop from the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office:

2015 Coordinated Election Official Canvass Complete

No Automatic Recount Triggered in Manitou Springs

[Colorado Springs, Colo. – November 16, 2015] The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office has completed the official canvass of the 2015 Coordinated Election and has posted final official results online. The canvass – completed four days ahead of the November 20 deadline – marks the official end of the 2015 Coordinated Election. In addition to the canvass, the Clerk’s Office also completed a post-election audit. El Paso County’s election equipment passed the audit with 100% accuracy.

With the final results tabulated, no ballot issue or candidate race met the threshold set in Colorado law to trigger an automatic recount.

“We are very proud to have completed another successful election here in El Paso County,” Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman said. “With our emphasis on better processes and efficiency, we tabulated and released results faster than ever before all while maintaining accuracy and security. The voters that participated in the 2015 Coordinated Election can be confident that their voice was heard in our democratic process. I’d like to thank all of our elections staff and judges who worked hard to make this year’s election a resounding success.”

Final official results include additional ballots from military and overseas voters, and ballots that were counted after ID, signature, or other issues were properly resolved. Final official results are approved by a bipartisan canvass board.

For results, please visit www.EPCVotes.com.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Ballot inspections a big-ticket project

Posted By on Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 6:35 PM

The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition has published a blog post regarding the cost of inspecting ballots.

From the post:
[S]ome counties are making it prohibitively expensive for at least one election watchdog to obtain the records he says are needed to independently audit the accuracy of voting systems.

Election integrity activist Harvie Branscomb made Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) requests of eight counties for ballot records from the Nov. 3 election. As indicated by email threads posted on his blog, Douglas County wanted an upfront deposit of $4,000 to examine about 88,000 ballot scans for marks that could identify individual voters and then redact any such marks from the copies.

Mesa County quoted Branscomb $1,500 to similarly process about 29,000 ballot scans before releasing them, and Garfield County wanted $990 for about 11,000 scans. Jefferson County asked for advance payment of $12,475 to review and redact about 185,000 ballot scans.
That made us wonder if there's a similar story in El Paso County. Clerk and Recorder spokesman Ryan Parsell says the office hasn't received such requests for many years, but as a general rule, the Clerk and Recorder's Office doesn't charge for CORA requests. He also says the county's system differs from others in that there's no need to remove anything from the ballot. That's because there are no markings that enable a ballot to be traced back to the individual who voted it.

Parsell says several counties, including those named in the CFOIC blog post, are testing systems that might be certified for future elections. It's unlikely any of those systems will be required for the 2016 presidential election, because replacement costs are so high that most counties couldn't afford them. For example, El Paso County's price would be about $4 million, he says. Counties are hoping that when certain equipment is specified for use in future elections, the state will chip in to cover the cost.

Meantime, the vote canvas for the November 3 election will be completed Monday. Military ballots from overseas were due Thursday, and not many had been received. That could mean the outcome of the Manitou Springs mayoral race, which was decided by just a handful of votes, won't change, although Parsell won't comment on election results at this time.
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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.


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.)

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 www.EPCVotes.com 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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Monday, November 2, 2015

Procrastinators rejoice: There are now more places to vote.

Posted By on Mon, Nov 2, 2015 at 11:22 AM

click image Some bunny is more responsible than you. - COALY BUNNY
  • Coaly Bunny
  • Some bunny is more responsible than you.

At this point, you have until tomorrow at 7 p.m. to turn in your ballots. Congratulations, procrastinators, the last minute to vote is fast approaching. 

On the bright side, the El Paso County Clerk's Office is now offering more locations for voters. Read on for all the details and be sure to check out our endorsements here and here.

Clerk Opens Three Additional Voter Service and Polling Centers

Colorado Springs, Colo. – November 2, 2015
Voters who need to get a replacement ballot, update their registration, register to vote, or vote in person will have three more locations from which to choose starting today, November 2. The three additional Voter Service and Polling Centers (VSPCs) open today in Monument, Manitou Springs, and Fountain, giving voters outside of Colorado Springs a more convenient option.

“We felt it was important to give voters throughout the county greater accessibility to the VSPCs,” said Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman. “We also want to thank the people who offered these facilities for use in the election. They help us to ensure voters’ democratic right to vote is not encumbered.”

All VSPCs also have ballot drop-off boxes with 24/7 access. An interactive map where voters may search for the nearest VSPC or ballot drop-off location is available at www.EPCVotes.com under the tab Return My Ballot. The locations of drop boxes were strategically determined so they are located within a 15-minute drive time of 98% of all El Paso County voters.

The three additional VSPCs and operating hours are:

Monday, November 2, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m


The Clerk’s Office strongly encourages voters to return their ballot early at any of the ballot drop-off boxes. Voters are urged NOT to return their ballot by the U.S. Postal Service due to delays in delivery. All ballots must be received by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day, November 3, in order to be counted. Postmarked ballots received after the deadline cannot be counted.

Voters can check the status of their ballot to know when the Clerk’s Office has received it by signing up for BallotTrax. This is a free service offered by the Clerk’s Office to El Paso County voters this year. It also gives voters an option to receive notifications by email, text or phone call. Voters can enroll in BallotTrax by going to www.EPCVotes.com.

Voter Service and Polling Centers currently open:

Saturday, October 31, 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Monday, November 2, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Election Day, Tuesday November 3, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Don't mail your ballot

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 9:18 AM

  • Shutterstock
While we at the Independent fully encourage you to vote before the Nov. 3 election day, we would like to discourage you from mailing your ballot.

It's not just us. The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder and the Secretary of State also think it's a bad idea. Here's the thing: If you mail your ballot at this point, it may not actually arrive on time and be counted. Then you've carefully filled out all those little bubbles for nothing. We don't want that to happen to you. 

So go ahead, take that extra step, and drop off your ballot. You can find drop-off locations here, but we'll make it easier for you. If you're voting before Nov. 2, you'll need to go to one of the county clerk's offices. They are located at 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road, Suite 2202; 5650 Industrial Place; 8830 North Union Boulevard; and 200 South Cascade Ave. The clerk’s offices are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

I'm glad we had this talk. Don't forget to vote!

Secretary of State Wayne Williams recommends voters personally drop off their ballots

DENVER, Oct. 27, 2015 – Secretary of State Wayne Williams recommends voters who have not yet returned their ballots for the Nov. 3 election either drop off their ballots with their county clerks or use a designated county drop-off location.

Several county clerks have expressed concern that the U.S. Postal Service did not deliver their ballots in a timely manner. Those ballots that are filled out and mailed are, for the most part, sent to the USPS’s sorting center in Denver, and then returned to the county clerks. That’s why the secretary of state’s office is recommending ballots be hand-delivered rather than mailed to ensure they are received by Election Day. The Department of State wants to ensure that every voter’s voice heard in this election.

In 2014, a Colorado District Court judge ruled that county clerks may not count ballots that arrive after 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Information on locations for county clerks’ offices, voter service and polling centers and 24-hour drop-off locations can be found here.

Secretary Williams is committed to working with the postal service, Colorado county clerks and the members of the state legislature in order to improve future options for voting.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

UPDATE: Brewer drops out of county commission race following husband's arrest

Posted By on Wed, Oct 21, 2015 at 10:32 AM

There are lots of reasons people drop out of political races, but according to multiple reports, Marsha Brewer had an unusual motivation for bowing out of the 2016 race for El Paso County Commissioner District 3.

Brewer's husband, Jimmie Brewer, has apparently been arrested by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office on suspicion of sexual assault on a child under 15 by one in a position of trust, sexual assault on a child under 18 by one in a position of trust, and incest. According to KRDO, he has since been released on $5,000 bond.

According to the Gazette, the apparent victim, a girl, told detectives that she had frequent sexual contact with Brewer starting in 2012 when she was 8 years old.

It's a shocking revelation considering the Brewers are longtime players in the local Republican party. And according to KRDO, Marsha Brewer is accused of knowing about the abuse and not reporting it.

"According to Jimmie Brewer's arrest warrant," KRDO reports, "the child said she told Marsha Brewer about the abuse but said Marsha Brewer didn't report it. Marsha Brewer sent a text message to the child in September apologizing for Jimmie Brewer's actions. "

——- ORIGINAL POST, TODAY, 10:32 A.M. ——-
Three current county commissioners will be term limited next year.
  • Three current county commissioners will be term limited next year.

The 2016 race for three El Paso County Commissioner seats is already getting a little tighter.

Marsha Brewer, a candidate for County Commissioner in District 3 has announced she will pull out of the race due to a change in her personal circumstances.

Three Board of County Commissioner seats will be up for grabs next year because Amy Lathen (District 2), Sallie Clark (District 3) and Dennis Hisey (District 4) are term-limited.

Sherrie Gibson, Tim Geitner and Mark Waller have announced for District 2. Alex Johnson, Susan Payne, Rodney Gehrett and Tyler Stevens are running for District 3. Longinos Gonzalez, Joan Lucia-Treese, Elizabeth Rosenbaum and Scott Turner have announced for District 4. All are Republicans except Rosenbaum, a Democrat.

Waller, former Republican leader of the state House, unsuccessfully ran for attorney general in 2014. Stevens was mayor of Green Mountain Falls from 2002-2012 and still is mayor pro-tem. Gonzalez ran for City Council in April.

Marsha Brewer, Candidate
El Paso County Commissioner District 4
Exits the Race

Colorado Springs – Today Marsha Brewer, a Candidate for County Commissioner announced that she would not seek the Republican Party nomination for El Paso County Commissioner District 4.

“To be an effective Candidate requires a great deal of time and attention. Due to a change in my personal circumstances, I will not be able to devote the time and attention I believe is necessary to be an effective Candidate and Commissioner. I wish the other Candidates and the citizens of Commissioner District 4 the very best,” stated Brewer “there are some excellent Candidates in this race and I look forward to supporting the Party’s nominee in June.”

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Meet Manitou candidates tonight

Posted By on Mon, Oct 19, 2015 at 1:00 PM

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If you're not a local politics geek, it can be tough to decide how to vote in a small town. Those elections sneak up on you and the candidates aren't usually big headline grabbers. 

Still, your vote could have a big impact on issues that affect your everyday life. In Manitou Springs, that probably includes parking, tourism, roads, marijuana, government spending, and environmental issues, among others. The easiest way to figure out how to fill out your ballot is to head to the Briarhurst tonight and meet the contenders. 

The Indy's sister paper, The Pikes Peak Bulletin is hosting a forum with all the candidates. The event begins at 6 p.m., and the forum starts promptly at 6:30 p.m. 

Read on the rest of the details:

Manitou Springs voters, candidates invited to 2015 Election Forum
Pikes Peak Bulletin newspaper presents free Oct. 19 discussion

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colorado – Oct. 12, 2015 – The Pikes Peak Bulletin, Manitou Springs’ weekly newspaper, will host a candidates forum leading up to the city’s mayoral and City Council races.

All candidates will be present. They are: Nicole Nicoletta and Coreen Toll for mayor; Paotie Dawson, Becky Elder, Donna Ford, Randy Hodges, Daniel Prem, Jay Rohrer, Gary Smith and David Walker for City Council. Hodges is unopposed, running for the Ward 1 seat, and the remaining candidates are running for three at-large seats.

The free forum will be the evening of Monday, Oct. 19, at the Briarhurst Manor Estate, 404 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs. Social time, 6-6:30 p.m., includes complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. The forum will begin promptly at 6:30 p.m. and end approximately 8:30 p.m. Candidates and voters may remain until 10 p.m. for informal discussions.

The League of Women Voters and Citizens Project will assist with gathering and compiling voter questions, which will then be read to the candidates by moderator Ralph Routon. A sign-language interpreter will be available 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Information sheets with each candidate’s responses to the Bulletin’s questionnaire will be available, as will candidates’ literature.

The 2015 Manitou Springs Election Forum is co-sponsored by the Briarhurst Manor Estate, the city of Manitou Springs, the League of Women Voters, Citizens Project, the Pikes Peak Library District, the Colorado Springs Independent and the Colorado Springs Business Journal.

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