In a race still too close to call, voters in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District are resolving issues with rejected ballots ahead of a Wednesday night deadline.
Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert and Democratic challenger Adam Frisch more than a week after the midterm election are still in a contest for one of the few remaining undecided House races in the country. As of late Wednesday morning Boebert with 162,040 votes remained 1,122 votes ahead of Frisch, whose 160,918 votes put him several hundred votes away from the threshold at which state law would mandate a recount.
County clerk offices in the 27 counties of the 3rd District continued Wednesday to process ballots from military and overseas voters and as rejected ballots were “cured.” When tabulators reject a ballot, often due to a missing or discrepant signature, the voter has an opportunity to resolve, or cure, the problem.
Ballot curing occurs after every election, but the rate of ballot cures is “much higher” this year compared to previous elections due to the intense attention on the Boebert-Frisch race, said Brandi Bantz, the designated election official in Mesa County, the second most populous county in the district.
After the Nov. 8 election, Mesa County had a list of about 800 curable ballots. As of Tuesday that number was down to 531, and on Wednesday it stood at 415.
In the 2020 general election, 11,085 ballots statewide were cured, but almost 22,000 rejected ballots were not.
Matt Crane, executive director of Colorado County Clerks Association, said a higher rate of cured ballots in the 3rd District this year might be expected, due the nature of the close race.
“Parties were bringing in people from out of state to help with it, so it doesn’t surprise me one bit,” he said.
In the 3rd District’s most populous county, Pueblo, the curable ballot list reportedly started at 720 names of voters. On Tuesday the list contained 502 names of voters, and by Wednesday it was down to 438.
The district’s third-most populous county, Garfield — Boebert’s own county — had a list of 124 outstanding curable ballots Tuesday morning. On Wednesday morning it was 95. Rachel Weishaar, who works in the Garfield elections office, said staff there had also seen a higher rate of ballots being cured, “I’m guessing because of the closeness of a couple of the races.”
A Frisch spokesperson on Monday told Newsline the campaign believed there were up to about 3,000 curable ballots in the district following the election.
The list of voters with curable ballots is public record. While Boebert’s campaign would be expected to pursue registered Republicans with curable ballots and Frisch’s campaign would pursue Democrats, Frisch’s campaign is also encouraging unaffiliated voters to cure ballots, believing they skew toward Frisch, the spokesperson said.
Political operatives have been deployed in the district to contact voters with curable ballots, including by visiting them at home, and some voters view the operation as “harassment,” according to CPR.
A Boebert spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Updated ballot tallies are expected to be available Thursday.
Boebert and Frisch have signaled to their supporters that a recount is “likely.” Colorado law requires an automatic recount if the apparent winner is ahead by a number of votes that is equal to or less than 0.5% of their vote total. If the statutory recount threshold is not met, one of the candidates can pay to initiate a recount.
On Wednesday afternoon, the 1,122-vote difference between the candidates’ totals was several hundred votes above the threshold — 810 votes at current totals — that would trigger an automatic, state-funded recount.
Dec. 5 is the last day the secretary of state can order a statutory recount, and Dec. 6 is the last day a candidate can request a recount at their own expense.
The 3rd Congressional District encompasses the Western Slope and the southwest corner of the state, sweeping east to include Pueblo, Otero and Las Animas counties. It favors Republicans by 9 percentage points, based on other recent elections.
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