Wayne Williams, Bobbie Gross, Brandi Bantz

Wayne Williams, Bobbie Gross, Brandi Bantz

Three people broke the seal on the door and entered a polling place at the Palisade Community Center on Tuesday and began to exercise, not for the right to vote but, well, to exercise.

They were there for a pilates class.

The the three were discovered by an election site supervisor about a half hour before election judges opened the voter service and polling center for the day, according to an incident report filed by an election judge.

They had been there for about 10 minutes.

“She entered the location and found a group of pilates members conducting a class,” election judge Darby Davoca wrote in the incident report, which was filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office as is required.

“(Election Manager Stephanie Wenholz) reached out to me and my direction was to have the bipartisan teams verify all of the seals and chain of custody (on the election equipment),” Davoca added. “All chain-of-custodies and seals were intact minus the front door seal. She reported that nothing appeared to have been touched or moved.”

The pilates exercisers said they thought they had the room until 7:45 a.m., but actually weren’t supposed to be in there at any time.

Turns out, the managers of the center forgot to change the access codes to the room to prevent anyone else from entering.

Former Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who has been appointed by the Secretary of State’s Office to help oversee the primary, said such incidents aren’t uncommon, and aren’t intended to compromise elections.

He said Mesa County’s director of elections, Brandi Bantz, who had been appointed by the county as its designed election official to replaced the sidelined Clerk Tina Peters, issued procedures for all polling places to return any ballots to the central office when the centers close at 5 p.m.

He said only three people had voted the day before.

“It’s not unusual for there to be issues with using polling places with owners,” Williams said. “Since there are fewer VSPCs than before 2013, they occur less frequently now than in the past.”

Bobbie Gross, one of two GOP candidates seeking to replace Peters, said something similar occurred in 2012 at a polling center in De Beque when she was a site supervisor there.

“When I arrived at the Town Hall to open the site, all the machines were moved,” Gross said. “What had happened was they had forgotten to mention they were having a dance there the night before.”

Gross said similar bipartisan judges confirmed that no seals were broken, and no equipment tampered with. “Thankful for seals, security and change-of-custody protocols,” she said.

Voting for next Tuesday’s primary elections have already begun. To date, more than 460,000 ballots have already been returned statewide since they where mailed to voters on June 6, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.