Yesterday, the Boulder County Clerk's office announced that its election results are finally certified. However, a spokesman for Secretary of State Scott Gessler says just the opposite -- a final decision has not been made yet, although one could come soon.
The conflicting statements have further irked those Boulder canvass board members who criticized the process and refused to certify the results.
Yes, election day was a month ago. But the drama is not over yet in Boulder, the only county in the state that did not get its results certified through the standard canvass board process.
In each Colorado county, there is a canvass board made up of the clerk and recorder, who oversees the election, and up to two appointees from each major party. That board is specifically charged with certifying the results, thereby functioning as citizen oversight for the counts. As we reported last week, the two Republican and two American Constitution Party reps voted not to certify, to the dismay of Boulder Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall, a Democrat.
As a result, the process moves to the Secretary of State's office, which has the authority to make the results official even if the canvass board did not give its majority approval.
The Boulder Clerk and Recorder's office sent out this short press release yesterday titled "Boulder County 2012 election results certified." It reads:
Boulder County -- The Colorado Secretary of State's office has accepted Boulder County's results for the 2012 General Election.
The Boulder County Clerk & Recorder's office will distribute notices of election certification today to candidates, municipalities, special districts and others who coordinated with the county for the election.
Final official results for the election are available at BoulderCountyVotes.org. Results have not changed since provisional ballots were added to the tally on Nov. 20.
More election information: 303-413-7740 or BoulderCountyVotes.org.
Asked for confirmation of this decision, Andrew Cole, a spokesman for Gessler, tells us that as of yesterday afternoon, the Secretary of State's office has not given its approval of the results, although it will likely make an announcement today. If so, we'll update this post.
Continue for more on the certification process in Boulder and yesterday's announcements. "That headline says it has been certified, which is not the case," Cole explains. By today, he adds, Gessler's office will finish its consideration of the canvass board concerns, which were written out in a letter last week. Incidentally, Gessler has a scheduled stop in Boulder this morning as part of an "election integrity listening tour" to give the public a chance to offer feedback on the elections.
It is very likely that the canvass board process in Boulder will come up in public comments. The members who voted no expressed a range of concerns, including criticisms of the signature verification process and arguments that there are inconsistencies in the counts.
Technically, Gessler cannot directly "certify" the results of the state and federal races; that's the job of the canvass boards. But his office can "accept" them, making the vote official. The counties are responsible for the local races: In Boulder, races for county commissioner, district attorney and a handful of district ballot issues were contested this year.
Though the canvass board rejected results across the board, the county clerk's office has done its review and made the decision yesterday to alert relevant municipalities of the final results in the local races, says Molly Tayer, elections coordinator in the clerk and recorder's office.
Tayer says the concerns of the canvass board members are related to issues outside the scope of the board. Her office is confident in the results, she notes.
"We have four people that were interested in many things beyond the [charges of the canvass board]," Tayer points out. "That shouldn't be allowed to hold up certification and the close of the race."
Tayer says she has been in close contact with the Secretary of State's office and thought it was clear her office had approval to go forward with its announcement of certification. The Secretary of State's team says it did not give a green light for the press release above.
It's possible there was some confusion regarding the county certifying the local races versus Gessler's office accepting results of the statewide and federal races.
"We didn't mean to create this kind of confusion," Tayer says.
After the Secretary of State makes its decision final today, it is likely these officials will all be on the same page, declaring that the process was successful and the results are solid and official.
But such a declaration won't appease the concerns of Boulder's critics, who say the county clerk is essentially rubber-stamping her own results and eliminating the oversight powers of the canvass board.
"This is just outrageous," says Marilyn Marks, founder of Citizen Center, a voter watchdog group that has been critical of both Gessler and Hall. "This is not the American way.... This is not what you do...when you have citizens that are supposed to have control."
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Marks argues that officials in Boulder did not give enough information to those responsible for certifying the results to feel confident.
Mary Eberle, one of the canvass board members who voted no, responded to the Boulder press release by saying, "I have no idea what they did. There is no information.... I'd like to know who did the certification. Is the clerk certifying her own work?"
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