After losing by 184 votes, District Attorney Martin Beeson announced on Monday that he will seek a recount of the ballots cast in the Nov. 6 election.
Election officials in Pitkin, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties, which comprise the 9th Judicial District, are gearing up to have the recount done by the state’s Dec. 13 deadline.
Glenwood Springs defense attorney Sherry Caloia, who unseated Beeson according to final tallies released on Nov. 20, said she wasn’t surprised by Beeson’s decision.
“He doesn’t lose well,” she said.
In an email to reporters, Beeson wrote that he reached the decision after thinking about it over the holiday weekend.
“The formal written request will be submitted by mail to the secretary of state’s office either today or tomorrow,” Beeson wrote on Monday. “Thank you for your patience.”
In an interview, Beeson said it was a difficult decision, one he made after receiving over the weekend unsolicited advice “from all perspectives.” After talking at length with his wife and praying on the issue, Beeson said he reached his decision on Sunday night.
Caloia said while she’s eager to lay the groundwork — such as meeting with law enforcement officials — before taking office, should she win the recount, she respects Beeson’s decision.
“If Martin asks for a recount and pays for it, he gets it,” she said. “It’s one of his statutory rights.”
While the 184-vote difference, out of about 35,000 cast, was slim, it was outside the margin that triggers an automatic recount, a cost for which the state would have paid.
The recount tab in Pitkin County is estimated to be about $3,500, county election manager Dwight Shellman III said. Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico said she has informed the secretary of state’s office that the recount estimate is $4,500 to $5,000. Rio Blanco County Clerk Nancy Amick said she did not yet have the estimate for her region and has not been officially notified of the recount.
“I’m assessing what needs to be done,” she said on Monday, noting that she expects a recount of ballots in Rio Blanco County to take between one and two days.
Those figures are “certainly a lot more than I anticipated,” Beeson said, adding that he is conferring with state election officials about whether he can use campaign funds to pay for the recount. “I think it’s not supposed to be cost-prohibitive, nor is it supposed to be minimal.”
Shellman said he expects the secretary of state’s office in the next few days to issue directives on running the recount. The county will reconvene the election canvas board it used during the Nov. 6 tally, he said.
The board is comprised of one Republican Party member and one from the Democratic Party, plus Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder Janice Vos Caudill.
“We envision using the two partisan members of the canvass board and having them designate three additional judges from their own parties,” Shellman said. “They would then work in bi-partisan teams” on the recount.
One focus will be on the “under-votes,” or ballots that had no votes cast for either Caloia or Beeson, Shellman said. Pitkin had 1,077 such ballots, while Garfield had 1,690 (Rio Blanco’s number of under-votes was not known Monday).
The canvas board will examine those ballots for voter intent using state guidelines that govern mis-marked votes, Shellman said. Then, if any are deemed acceptable, they will be counted along with mail-in, early, polling place and provisional ballots.
Beeson, a Republican, ran on his record in office, telling voters that he and his deputy prosecutors have been tough on criminals, and that he righted a disordered office when he was elected in 2005. Caloia, a Democrat, criticized Beeson’s judicial philosophy, disagreeing with many of his prosecutions and how they were handled.