Gessler to conduct Saguache election review

Secretary of State Scott Gessler today announced that his office will conduct a review of Saguache County’s 2010 general election results.

According to a press release issued by the Secretary of State’s office, Gessler and his team plan to head to the county Wednesday to make preparations for a hand review of the votes cast in elections already under investigation by the Colorado Attorney General’s office.

The citizens of Saguache County deserve fair elections, and I believe this effort will help restore their faith in their elections once again,” Gessler said. “We’re planning a process-driven review that preserves the openness and transparency voters should expect.”

The election process in Saquache County was recently drawn into question when county Clerk Melinda Myers reversed an unofficial outcome of the 2010 election that found her losing to Republican challenger Carla Gomez by 15 votes.

Myers said that due to a computer glitch, a strongly Democratic precinct saw its early voter and absentee votes deleted. After rerunning those ballots, results of both her race and fellow Democrat Linda Joseph’s race, who initially appeared to have lost to Republican Stephen Carlson for county commissioner, were reversed.

As reported by the Colorado Independent, “Members of a six-person canvassing board refused to certify the election, claiming Myers and her staff failed to properly secure the ballots, improperly conducted the post-election audit, rebuffed requests to independently verify voter tabulations and ignored complaints about voting irregularities.”

The concerns have prompted a criminal investigation by Attorney General John Suthers’ office, with Meyers being called to testify before a grand jury and numerous officials subpoenaed to do the same.

While Meyers has stated she is glad the attorney general has stepped into clear up what many believe is a case of stealing the election, the Secretary of State’s office said it plans to further restore faith in the integrity of the system.

Teams of citizens will be asked to join state officials as they tabulate and confirm ballots in the races for county commissioner, county clerk and recorder, and a control group. Gessler’s office said it would release the results of the unofficial count as soon as tabulations are completed.

He plans to hold a discussion meeting Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Saguache Community Center, located at 5th and Pitkin Street in Saguache.

“I anticipate a cooperative effort between my office, county officials, and the community to shed light on the process and illustrate the safeguards and election procedures in place,” Gessler said.

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