CO: Chain-Of-Custody and Confidence broken

Update 1/26/2012: Recall election brings new Saguache clerk  <read>

County Clerk and Recorder Melinda Myers lost her recall election by more than a 2-1 margin Tuesday night and will be replaced by the candidate she beat in a controversial 2010 election. Voters recalled Myers, 941-453, pushing her from office 14 months after an election that prompted two reviews by the secretary of state and another by a statewide grand jury. Republican Carla Gomez, who lost to Myers in the last election, topped independent Patricia Jenkins, 762-319, according to Tuesday’s final unofficial results.

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CO: Citizens challenge SOS plan, discover ballot irregularities <read>

Confidence depends on counting everything, the chain-of-custody, and what is discovered. It looks like faults in all three do not inspire confidence and integrity in Saguache County:

The group peppered Secretary of State’s Office (SOS) staff with questions about how the review should be conducted and what should be reviewed. They protested that the votes cast in Prec. 5 (Crestone) have been in question since the election and since they were largely mail-in, should be counted as a precinct in order to decide if the Nov. 5 “retabulation” of these votes following the discovery of the error was accurate…

The SOS assigned teams to citizen volunteers Monday and began sorting out the ballots. Citizens asked the counting activities be delayed until their questions could be answered but Munster and communications officer Andrew Cole simply stated that the directives issued for the review by the SOS last week must be followed…

In opening the ballot boxes, volunteers discovered that only two of the three boxes had the necessary seals attached. None of the seal logs were where they were supposed to be, watchers observed. Counting judge Duboe and another individual, while possibly trying to trying to locate unvoted ballot stock, opened the ballot boxes March 30.

One of the four teams counting ballots discovered more signatures than ballots. Another team found several ballots with white out covering votes, different inks used on the same ballot and marks that appeared to be made by felt tip markers which had bled through to the other side of the ballot.

Another team found what seemed to be an entire batch of provisional ballots that had not been opened or reviewed. Some 10 ballots were discovered that had votes made only for Joseph and Myers and no other candidates. The SOS said that these votes were valid, although they did disqualify one vote cast for Linda Joseph found by another team that was unverifiable.

Some ballots apparently were missing and there was confusion concerning a set of odd provisional ballots, all blank, cast in Precincts 7, 8 and 9. One voter signature had been cut from a provisional ballot out of another pollbook and taped over a signature of the same person into a different pollbook. “We have no idea what happened there,” Marks said.

See earlier coverage <here>

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