9 ballots will decide South Routt School Board race; results by Nov. 11 | SteamboatToday.com

9 ballots will decide South Routt School Board race; results by Nov. 11

Stephanie Carolus and Jeffery Clyncke.
Courtesy photos

Nine ballots will decide the outcome of a school board race that is reminding people in South Routt County that every vote counts.

After the election night tally, Jeffery Clyncke was edging out Stephanie Carolus by the slimmest margin possible — 382 to 381 — for the District 6 seat on the South Routt Board of Education.

“One vote difference,” Clyncke said Wednesday. “It’s kind of good because it’s proof that people are out there trying to make their decisions, so we had a very tight one. … We have to wait and find out what the end result is going to be.”

Carolus said the suspense of such a close margin is nerve-wracking, but she is confident whatever the outcome is the new board will have a good new member.

“Either one of us would be a totally good candidate; I have 100% confidence,” Carolus said. “I’m happy if it’s him, and I’m happy if it’s me.”

Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kim Bonner said countywide, there are 102 ballots that need to be cured and 27 more that were held back to release with cured ballots to protect voters’ identities.

Of these 129 ballots still out there, nine were cast in the district — four were held back, and five needed to be cured.

Ballots need to be cured when they are rejected during the counting process. Four of the five ballots were rejected because of a discrepancy flagged by election judges between the signature on the ballot, and the fifth was rejected because it was not signed at all.

“That could make a difference,” Bonner said of the nine votes left. “A two-vote difference will clear us of a statutory recount.”

In Colorado, a recount is triggered if the margin is less than or equal to 0.5% of the leading vote-getter’s total. With Clyncke at 382, 0.5% equates to about 1.9 votes. If the margin remains one vote, there would be a recount. If either candidate gets to a two or more vote lead, they would win without needing a recount.

“Somebody can request a recount, but they have to pay for the cost,” Bonner said.

Bonner said voters have until the end of the day Nov. 10 to cure their ballots. These voters were mailed an affidavit explaining why their ballot was rejected and the process to cure their ballot.

“They have to sign that affidavit saying they did or did not sign their ballot, and they have to supply a copy of their ID,” Bonner said. “There is that option — I did sign or I did not — so that there’s a way to prosecute if somebody else signed their ballot form.”

Voters have until the very last moment Nov. 10 to return the affidavit. They can email it to Bonner by taking a picture of the signed affidavit and a picture of their ID and sending them to her. Voters can also use the Secretary of State’s “TXT2Cure” system that started in 2020, allowing them to cure ballots via text message.

The names of the people with ballots to cure are public. Candidates, or in years with a partisan election, local party leadership, often get the names and encourage some of them to cure their ballot.

Cured ballots are not an afterthought and have changed the outcome of elections in the past. In 2017, 11 votes cast in the Hayden School District decided the outcome of an election that was deadlocked on election night. The measure ended up passing by just two votes after ballot cures.

Bonner said she would release results Nov. 11, even though it is a holiday.

“We’ll make sure that the word’s out whether or not there’s a recount or not,” Bonner said.

The ballot in South Routt had its own unique ballot style, but Bonner said they do not sort out ballots into different races. If a recount were required, they would need to scan all of the ballots again.

Bonner said they do so many logic and accuracy tests before the election, and there has never been an error scanning ballots, just with the hand tally. She doesn’t anticipate a scanning recount would change the final result, but it isn’t out of the question.

“We used to have to vote 500 ballots for the test deck, and then we had to hand count,” Bonner said. “After hand counting, then you make sure that they match, and the mistake was always with the hand count.”

It is possible for the race to be tied. In this situation, the election is decided by a “lot drawing” Bonner said, which could be something like a coin flip or drawing straws.

“Hopefully, it won’t come to that; I’d rather have a clear winner,” Bonner said. “You never know.”

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