9th District DA election outcome up in the air

Democratic challenger Sherry Caloia continues to hold onto a narrow lead in the race to be chief prosecutor in the 9th Judicial District, but it could be weeks before a winner is determined in the race.

Caloia was leading Republican incumbent Martin Beeson by 159 votes after the election-night count in Rio Blanco, Garfield and Pitkin counties. However, her lead narrowed to 124 after the Garfield clerk on Wednesday was able to count 292 mail-in ballots that couldn’t be processed earlier after a brief power outage last week corrupted a memory card.

Caloia is now leading 17,300 to 17,176, or 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent.

Meanwhile, clerks in all three counties still need to deal with hundreds of other outstanding ballots. Among them are ones in which voters are allowed to vote provisionally due to questions about their eligibility to vote. Questions can arise over things such as discrepancies in a voter’s address or instances in which voters ask for a ballot at a precinct after being mailed one, and it must be ensured that they didn’t vote twice.

Garfield County received 559 provisional ballots; Rio Blanco, 77; and Pitkin, about 215.

Clerks also are waiting to see if dozens of voters exercise their right to cure their votes after being notified of problems such as failing to sign them. Also, overseas military have eight days after an election to return their ballots.

Clerks have about two weeks to certify their election results with the Secretary of State’s Office. That office then will determine whether the DA’s race is close enough to require an automatic recount.

Such recounts occur when the margin of victory equals a half-percent or less of the amount of the winner’s vote. Currently, that would mean about 86 votes or fewer.

Candidates may request recounts for larger margins of victory but must pay for the cost themselves, unless the recount results in a change in the race’s outcome.

Beeson was elected in December 2005 in an election in which then-DA Colleen Truden was recalled from office. Caloia helped lead that recall effort.

She said she has a number of issues with Beeson’s job performance, but the biggest pertains to his inflexibility when it comes to prosecutorial decisions on individual cases. Beeson said the election outcome was simply a case of heavily Democratic Pitkin County voting along party lines.


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