Too close to call – tie vote in Hayden broken, rare recount kicks in
November 16, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The 427-427 tie in the Hayden school bond election has been broken in the district’s favor, but proponents of the plan to build new schools can't relax just yet.
Routt County Clerk Kim Bonner confirmed Thursday that the final vote tally was adjusted to include 431 votes in favor of the $22.3 million bond issue and related tax increase and 429 votes against, after a handful of ballots set aside on Election Day because of ambiguous signatures were cured and counted by the bipartisan Canvass Board and added to the total vote.
However, the margin is so slim it has kicked in an automatic recount process that must be completed before Dec. 7 under state election laws.
"The final unofficial outcome and the two-vote difference puts us in a mandatory recount," Bonner said. "I've heard there are about 12 counties facing recounts this election, which is fairly unprecedented. I can't recall ever doing a recount in Routt County but (former Steamboat Springs City Council member) Bud Romberg told me he was once involved in a recount," in 2003.
Hayden Superintendent Christy Sinner was optimistic that the new vote tally would stand up, and she confirmed the district remains committed to reapplying in 2018 for a state grant needed to help build the new schools.
"Everything we've heard from the courthouse is how reliable the (voting) machines are, so we're sticking with that," Sinner said. "Our staff is totally elated beyond belief."
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School Board President Brian Hoza said he intends to continue to work beyond the election to build consensus about the need for new schools in Hayden.
"It's a continued process to increase awareness and understanding to increase support for the schools," he said. "It's important, particularly, as our community grows and demographics begin to change."
The outcome of the adjusted vote won't be official until an audit is completed Friday. Election officials across Colorado will conduct "risk-limiting" post-election audits this week.
Once that's accomplished in Routt County, Bonner anticipates the recount may take place as soon as Nov. 30 or Dec. 1.
In most cases, the county clerk said, a recount is as straightforward as feeding the election ballots back into the counting machine to verify the count.
The Hayden School Board will be required to cover the costs of the recount, but Bonner estimates the bill won't be higher than $500.
Romberg recalls that in 2003 he was seeking a second term on city council and trailed challenger Susan Dellinger by five votes, close enough in that race to trigger a recount. However, when the votes were recounted, his margin of defeat was trimmed by just two votes.