Election judge Rich Korinek, left, tallies ballots during a recount of Broomfield’s vote on a county-wide hydraulic fracturing ban, at a city and county building, in Broomfield, Colo., Monday Dec. 2, 2013. The first full count, including military and overseas ballots, showed the five-year ban passing by 17 votes, close enough to trigger a recount. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
BROOMFIELD, Colo. (AP) — A recount of Broomfield’s vote on whether to ban hydraulic fracturing began Monday amid criticism from Secretary of State Scott Gessler about how the city handled the state’s new voter registration rules.
The first full count — including military and overseas ballots — showed the five-year ban passing by 17 votes, close enough to trigger a recount.
Voters previously had to be residents for at least 30 days to vote in statewide and municipal elections, but a new law reduced the residency requirement to 22 days for state votes.
Gessler said last week that the county counted an unspecified number of ballots from people who were ineligible to vote and rejected ballots from legitimate voters because officials only checked which voters had moved from outside of Broomfield, not within the county, during the 30 days leading up to election.
He also said officials made a mistake in discounting ballots that were delivered to clerks in other counties.
Broomfield officials said the state’s elections database doesn’t say how long voters have lived in a district, so they sent residency verification letters to about 500 voters who changed their registration in the month before the election. Before the count started, the county acknowledged in a statement that ballots from 18 voters weren’t counted because the voters didn’t affirm they had lived in Broomfield for 30 days, but that follow-up research indicates 11 of those voters may have met the residency requirement to vote on the fracking measure.
County Clerk Jim Candelarie said the recount will only tally the ballots that were originally counted, so none of those ballots will be counted.
“The ongoing research is an effort to fully disclose and understand any enfranchisement issues that may have occurred,” he said.
The residency change was part of a larger elections overhaul passed by Democrats. It also allows same-day voter registration and requires ballots to be mailed to all registered voters. No Republicans voted for the new law, citing concerns about voter fraud with same-day registration.