Overvotes the latest wrinkle in House District 61

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenNovember 17, 2010
Now that the undervotes are almost tallied in the House District 61 race, the contest between Roger Wilson and Kathleen Curry could come down to overvotes.
Kathleen Curry



Clerks in Pitkin, Hinsdale, Gunnison and Eagle counties have concluded their tallies of undervotes — ballots that didn’t register a candidate choice when they were fed through the voting machines — and Curry was able to gain 209 votes so far. Her campaign reported that Curry picked up 110 votes in Pitkin, 78 votes in Gunnison and 14 in Eagle. Undervotes in Garfield County, the largest county in HD61, are still getting counted.

Curry, who ran unaffiliated after dropping out of the Democratic Party last year, trails Wilson, the Democrat, by a little over 600 votes after the provisional ballots were counted. The latest undervote tally has cut Wilson’s lead to just under 400 votes.

“There is a controversy right now regarding overvotes. These are ballots that were counted for my opponents because there was a mark by their name but my name was also written in on them, so the voter basically voted for two people so the ballot should have been disregarded,” Curry said Wednesday. “The secretary of state has apparently interpreted the court order to mean that Wilson’s totals should not be adjusted even though the voter intent on those ballots is not clear. My understanding is that the clerks and the secretary of state feel that those types of ballots should be dealt with only during a recount. I estimate there could be 50-plus of those types of ballots district wide.”

A little over a week ago, Denver District Court Judge ruled that the 2,001 undervotes in the district had to be hand counted so that ballots with Curry's name written into the line for the HD61 race would be counted toward her tally even if the voter did not color in the oval next to the write-in line. Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, a Democrat, had previously instructed county clerks not to count those ballots in Curry’s favor.

Curry said she might have to seek a court ruling on what to do about overvotes too.

Roger Wilson

“My attorney is going to seek clarification from the court on this issue if the clerks don’t adjust the totals for my opponents to reflect the fact that some of these ballots do not have clear voter intent and should be disregarded,” the three-term state representative said.

If the contest were to reach a point where there are only about 50 votes separating Curry and Wilson, an automatic recount of all the ballots in HD61 would be triggered. Otherwise, Curry would have to spend $10,000 if she were to request a recount. When attorney’s fees and other costs are factored, the total cost could be as much as $20,000.

“I will not make any decisions about a recount until we get the numbers from Garfield and until I touch base with my watchers,” Curry said.


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