State Senate winner hangs on provisional ballot counts
summit daily news
More than a week after polls closed, state Senate District 16 constituents still have no final word on who will claim their senate seat.
Democrat contender Jeanne Nicholson leads GOP hopeful Tim Leonard by just a few hundred votes, and the razor thin gap prevents either candidate from claiming the seat until the hundreds of still-uncounted votes in the six counties in the district have been tallied.
Provisional and military ballots in each of the six counties must be counted before an official winner can be determined. Official numbers will be available by Nov. 19, when counties have to report counts to the Secretary of State’s office. Some county officials in the district have said they could have final numbers before then.
“This race is too close to call at this point without all the eligible votes yet counted,” Leonard said in a recent statement. “We are going to wait until provisional and military ballots are counted.”
Though Nicholson, current commissioner of Gilpin County, leads by over 500 votes, she too said she will hold off on calling the race until final counts are in.
“All of us are anxious to know the official election results,” Nicholson said in an online statement. “The results so far indicate a very close race, in fact too close to call. We need to respect everyone who voted even though their votes are being counted now and were not part of the initial count on election night.”
The seat is being vacated by Summit County resident Dan Gibbs, who ran unopposed for Summit County Commissioner. Senate District 16 encompasses Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand, Summit and parts of Jefferson and Boulder counties.
In Summit County, Nicholson won with 55 percent of the vote.
Approximately 175 provisional, military and miscellaneous Summit County ballots will be counted today, according to Kathy Neel, Summit County Clerk and Recorder.
“Results won’t be official until we do the canvass next Thursday, but once we get the provisional ballots in and counted, pretty much the count’s not going to change,” Neel said.
Some voters who arrived on election night had to cast provisional ballots when portals to the state’s voter registration system went down.
“There was a little glitch,” Neel said, “And then there are people that are issued absentee ballots that don’t vote them. So they go to the polls to vote and they have to vote provisionally. That’s a big number of the provisional ballots.”
If provisional ballot counts bring the two hopefuls within a margin of one half-percent of the number of votes gained by the winner, Colorado state law will require a vote recount. If the gap is wider than half a percent either of the candidates can request a recount, but will be required to pay for it.
Neither candidate has indicated interest in a recount.
SDN reporter Caddie Nath can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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