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County voters elect Democrats
11/9/2012 By: Carole McWilliams
Commission race to be decided by 735 provisional ballots
Times senior staff writer
Despite what might have been a large Republican turnout in outlying areas, La Plata County gave the nod Tuesday to President Barack Obama, congressional candidate Sal Pace, state representative candidate Mike McLachlan, and very narrowly to county commissioner candidates Julie Westendorff and Gwen Lachalt.
The county commissioner races remain up in the air until provisional votes are counted.
The Tuesday night vote count ended with 13,821 votes for Julie Westendorff versus 13,577 votes for Bayfield veterinarian Harry Baxstrom for District 3 county commissioner representing the east side of the county.
The District 2 race between Lachalt and incumbent Kellie Hotter was much closer. At the end of Tuesday night, the count was 13,804 for Lachalt and 13,726 for Hotter.
County Clerk Tiffany Lee Parker said the threshold for a recount is a .5 percent gap or less between the vote counts.
Parker told the Times Thursday morning that they have 735 provisional ballots to be processed. Another group estimated at less than 100 ballots had signature issues that voters have until Nov. 14 to correct with the county clerk.
Any overseas ballots also must be received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 14.
Provisional ballots might be cast because a voter’s address on some forms of ID, such as a utility bill, didn’t match what was in the registration file, or they had gotten a mail-in ballot and hadn’t used it, they were at the wrong precinct, or the person is not in the registration book and insists they are registered. If the ID is something like a Colorado drivers license, the address doesn’t have to match, Parker said.
Parker said her staff would start processing those ballots Thursday afternoon. “We have to go through each one individually. Each one is unique and different. It takes research on each one. When we have them done, we’ll have another set of results out.”
Parker said most provisional ballots end up being counted.
Vote canvasing must be finished by Nov. 23, but Parker said she wants it done by Nov. 16. She said results will be tallied by precinct once everything else is done.
As of Thursday morning, it appeared that McLachlan had defeated incumbent J. Paul Brown for 59th District State Representative, but district-wide, McLachlan led by less than 1,000 votes.
The Tuesday night tally in La Plata County was 14,725 for McLachlan, an attorney in Durango, and 12,771 for Ignacio-area sheep rancher Brown.
Sal Pace from Pueblo beat out incumbent 3rd District Congressman Scott Tipton in La Plata County, but Tipton appears to have won in the district, which covers all the Western Slope, the San Luis Valley, and Pueblo.
The tally in La Plata County was 13,604 votes for Pace and 12,663 votes for Tipton.
Bayfield School District voters approved ballot issue 3A to raise property taxes for operational needs, and 3B to extend an existing bond issue to pay for new facilities at the high school.
3A won easily with a tally of 2,593 yes and 2,025 no.
3B won by 100 votes with 2,350 yes and 2,250 no. It was losing slightly in the first vote results Tuesday night, the early, absentee, and most mail-in votes. It pulled ahead as votes ca
me in from Bayfield Town Hall, Upper Pine Fire administration, and Vallecito Church.
County voters went with the rest of the state to legalize recreational use of marijuana for adults, although it continues to be illegal under federal law.
People were lined up almost out the door at 6:15 Tuesday morning to vote at Bayfield Town Hall, according to Cindy Arnold, one of the poll workers there.
That was the voting location for precincts 19 and 20. Voters there showed a strong preference for paper ballots versus touch screen. As of 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, 269 voters had cast paper ballots with the AccuVote machine, versus 45 on the touch screen. There were 41 provisional ballots at that point.
The county has 41,516 registered voters, with 30,806 listed as active.
A total 28,700 ballots were cast. Parker said that more than 78 percent of mail ballots had been returned by Tuesday morning. Another 635 were deposited in ballot boxes during the day Tuesday. Those were the last votes tallied Tuesday night.
County results included:
President – Obama 15,063 votes; Mitt Romney 12,554; libertarian Gary Johnson 551.
State constitutional amendment 64 to legalize marijuana – 17,188 yes; 10,653 no.
Amendment 65 dealing with campaign financing – 20,383 yes; 6,428 no.
Amendment S to update state personnel system rules – 14,185 yes; 10,875 no.
Durango voters approved the LPEA franchise fee after rejecting it in April. The vote this time was 4,933 yes and 3,125 no.
County voters supported retention of all the state supreme court and appeals court judges on the ballot with margins of around 3:1.