11 voters could break Hayden school vote deadlock | SteamboatToday.com

11 voters could break Hayden school vote deadlock

The Hayden School District , 23 miles west of Steamboat, hopes to build a new Pre through Twelve school campus on land it owns near the current elementary school (pictured). But a tie vote in the Nov. 7 election, plus the district's inability to land a state grant in 2017-2018, has complicated the process.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The outcome of the Hayden School District bond issue election, which ended in a 427 to 427 tie Tuesday night, could be headed for a recount. But first, fewer than a dozen voters have the potential to change the outcome themselves.

Routt County Chief Deputy Clerk Tina Fry confirmed Wednesday, Nov. 8, that her office had already sent letters to 11 voters  — up from nine as of election night — whose ballots were rejected by bipartisan election judges because of discrepancies in their signatures. The letters invite them to bring valid identification to the county courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs by Nov. 15 so that their vote can stand.

Depending upon the results of that process, the tie could be broken.

"In my 15 years here, I've never seen anything like this," Fry said. "Every vote counts."

Potentially, the outcome of the signature verification process could swing the outcome of the election in either direction. If the verified signatures still resulted in a tie, or favored "no" by just one or two votes, an automatic recount would kick in, Fry said. And if the "no's" came out on top by three votes, the board could still ask for a recount.

In either case, the school district would be required to pay for the expense of the recount — a process it has a right to waive, Fry said.

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A voter's signature is rejected if election judges from both major political parties agree it isn't a good match with previous signatures on file for the voter, Fry explained.

New schools on the line

Hayden voters were asked to approve a $22.3 million bond issue and a property tax increase to pay off the indebtedness, which was in turn being counted on to land a $41 million BEST grant through the Colorado Department of Education to cover the majority of the cost to build the new schools.

Another factor that could come into play is that the Hayden district, which was listed as an alternate to receive the BEST grant, needed to see two other school districts, already approved for their grants, fail to achieve sufficient voter support to pass. That was the only scenario that would allow Hayden to move up the list and qualify for its grant in 2017-18. And that didn't happen.

According to statewide election results, only the ballot question put to voters in the Manzanola School District in Otero County was defeated at the polls.

In spite of that, a favorable vote would still help Hayden, because the results would be viable for the next two years of BEST grant funding cycles.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

About BEST Grants

Building Excellent Schools Today

The BEST program leverages revenue annually from the School Trust Lands, additional State Lottery revenues and marijuana excise taxes.

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