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CO: County clerk’s delayed ballot count reporting is politics as usual

Colorado’s new and controversial election laws are now at play as Nov. 4 looms with much anticipation.

On Oct. 17, county clerks from across Colorado released the count of absentee ballots received in their respective counties, except for Democratic Clerk Karen Long from Adams County (AdCo). An updated count raises questions about the lack of integrity inside and outside the AdCo Elections Department.

Delayed reporting is not uncommon out of the Adams County clerk. Adams County Clerk Karen Long’s office lagged in its reporting during the 20092010, and 2012 general elections, according to the local conservative blog Tony’s Rants. In response, Adams County Republicans and Libertarians have turned up the heat and are closely monitoring every step of the election process through the use of poll watchers.

After meeting with Adams County Republicans Executive Committee on Oct. 13 to review the rules around poll watchers, a letter was sent to Long that outlined eight separate discrepancies around interpretation of poll watcher rules and procedures including the credentialing process, use of electronic equipment, access to the official poll book, ability to issue signature challenges, and limitations around visual access.

Watchdog Wire contacted Karen Long, but she has yet to respond for comment. Rather, she has been verbally addressing individual watcher concerns as needed. The refusal to provide a documented resolution leaves these discrepancies uncertain and unresolved.

At this same meeting, Long indicated counting was not going to start until Wednesday, Oct. 22. However, the Adams County Clerk’s office sent out a returned ballot report dated Oct. 21. On Oct. 16, Adams County Republican Party chairman Gary Mikes requested Long produce the schedule of health care facilities to be visited for the purpose of distributing ballots to those whose medical conditions require special attention.

The list was initially requested when Long spoke to the Adams County Republican Executive meeting on Oct. 13. Long finally delivered the calendar the following Sunday evening, Oct. 19. The delayed response interfered with the ability of  poll watchers to observe the process that commenced on Oct. 14.

Initial reports from the health care facility visits are mixed.  Some are reporting very positive experiences, while others indicate no chain of custody in place to secure the voted ballots. There was at least one report indicating the judges, who are supposed to be paired with one Republican and one Democrat for accountability purposes, were actually split and each visited voters in the facilities by themselves with no oversight from the other.

According to Chairman Gary Mikes, the Adams County Republican Party  has identified 5,726 residents on the voter rolls who no longer reside in Adams County. He consequently issued a challenge via email for every non-resident listed on the voter roll, and requested a full accounting of which ballots were returned undeliverable, returned as voted, and not returned or voted at all. After no response for two days, he issued the same request via email.

The direct hire by Long of former Adams County Public Trustee Carol Snyder, who managed to get her car paid for at public expense and ultimately was given the opportunity to resign her position rather than face criminal charges is concerning. She is now the lead judge in charge of the count room and all activities therein.

Adams County is not only the fifth largest county in the state, but it is also home to key political races that could dictate the majority of the Colorado State Senate. AdCo also includes one of the nation’s most closely contested U.S. House races between incumbent Mike Coffman and Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff.

Campaigns use the updated early voting “turnout” counts in their efforts to track down likely favorable voters who have not yet cast their ballots. Delaying the release of this information puts candidates in Adams County at a disadvantage.

Featured image from Shutterstock 

Jen Raiffie

Jen Raiffie is the 3rd Vice Chair for Adams County GOP, newly elected to the Mapleton School Board and Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB). She runs a blog called Spotlight On Corruption, and is the co-founder of a video tracking group called "Chicks With Cameraz." Follow Jen on twitter @jraiffie and @spotcorruption. Jen's contributions do not reflect that of Mapleton Schools, CASB, or AdCo GOP. "Evil is made possible by the sanction you give it. Withdraw your sanction." -Rand

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Categories: Elections, Government Transparency, Must Read, Politics
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