08 November 2007

Denver Election Results Two Days Later

The Denver Clerk's website says that the counting isn't done yet, but with 91,000 or so votes in, we're finally close enough to call all of the remaining races.

It is time to declare Arturo Jimenez victor over Tony Curcio in the Denver Public School Board District 5 race. Jimenez leads Curcio 3,782 votes to 3,414, a margin of 368 votes. About 1 in 9 votes cast in the election were cast in District 5. This low turnout troubling. It should be more than 1 in 5, because a fifth of the population of Denver lives in District 5 and a district with a hotly contested race should have higher turout. But, the 1 in 9 figure is likely to hold true for the remaining ballots, so if there are perhaps 2,000 votes still to be counted, that means about 222 more votes can be expected in the District 5 race. This wouldn't be enough even if 100% of them were cast for Curcio, and in fact, 35.62% of the vote has been cast for winner Arturo Jimenez, 32.16% has been cast for Tony Curcio, 22.23% has been cast for Raymond J. Gutierre, and 9.99% has been cast for former candidate Jose G. Silva.

Referred Measure 1H, the closest of the referred Municipal Ballot issues, is also safely called at this point. The results on this measure are:

YES 45,446 51.89%
NO 42,134 48.11%
Total ... 87,580 100.00%

The margin of yes over no is now 3,312 votes, which again, probably exceeds the number of ballots remaining to be counted, and the remaining ballots are likely to be split quite closely to 50-50.

The fallout on the painfully slow vote counting process itself (emphasis added from link above)?

"What we have now is clearly not sufficient," said a red-eyed and weary Stephanie O'Malley, who blamed cramped office space and a handful of other factors for the slow count. . . . she will ask for larger office space and an additional public- relations officer to help educate voters on how to fill out ballots. Without those improvements, she said, her staff won't be able to handle the volume of votes for a presidential election.

As of 10 p.m. Wednesday, officials had processed 91,506 ballots. About 2,000 ballots had not been fully processed. Paper ballots are first run through a machine that registers the votes, but an official must then run a "tally" to display how votes were cast. A Wednesday morning tally of 81,613 ballots remained unchanged until 6:20 p.m., apparently because the official with the expertise to tally the ballots went home to bed. . . .

In all, Denver cast about 93,000 votes in this off-year election, about 46 percent of registered voters. O'Malley's office had expected 35 percent. . . . A cascade of problems awaited the 146 elections staffers and volunteers who started the day at 5 a.m. Tuesday, O'Malley and key officials said. Though early voting had begun 10 days before, not all ballots were counted as Tuesday dawned, they said. About 8,000 ballots remained. Officials estimated another 10,000 to 20,000 ballots would come in Tuesday, but the actual total was 22,000. . . . [T]he machines used to count the paper ballots . . . have so far kicked back about 4,800 ballots because of erased votes or mismarked votes.

In 2006, lines grew so long due to computer failures, causing thousands of people to give up and not vote, and it took nine days to count the votes in Denver.

This year, there were no long lines, every vote will be counted, and nobody doubts the accuracy or auditability of the count. But, the fact that Denver will get the job of counting the votes done three days slower than the other metro Denver counties, despite having more staff per vote cast and using essentially the same voting system, is worrisome. This year's count also went slower than other mail in election counts.

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