Decision 2010

Nov 16, 2010 12:25 AM by Matt Stafford

Too close to call campaigns still waiting tensely

The election was nearly two weeks ago, but a few races are still tight in El Paso County -- waiting on the roughly 5,000 final provisional ballots to be counted. Those are ballots filled out at the polls that still need to be verified.

Work is almost done counting those ballots on close races, but one group tells News First 5 they haven't been kept "in the know" like others.

"Updates have been getting sent out to certain people with certain campaigns to the exclusion of other campaigns," explains Michael Elliott, campaign manager for "no" on county question 1-A. Elliott was wanting numbers on how many provisional ballots had been accepted or rejected.

On Friday, Elliott says he asked El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink for an update. When that didn't work, Elliott tried sending Balink an email -- asking for progress information.

"Are you sending out these types of updates?" Elliott shows NF5 that he asked Balink in the email. "He (Balink) replied to me, 'We have not been distributing any updates that I am aware of."

But Elliott's attention was brought to an email sent Tuesday from Balink to other campaigns, with the information he was looking for. He also was given another from Wednesday. The Wednesday email from Balink even listed "election update" as the subject.

In the Senate District 11 race, Senator John Morse's campaign says they asked for the same information and were originally denied as well.

"It's things like these emails and then the denial of ever sending the email that really make one wonder, how transparent is this process?" asks Nate McNeil, campaign manager for Sen. Morse's re-election bid.

For balanced coverage; we spoke to County Clerk Balink over the phone. He says County Commissioner Jim Bensberg asked for an update, so he gave one to the board, as well as all the election watchers that had asked. Balink says Elliott was not one of them.

Elliott sent his request after the email updates he showed News First 5 that Balink had sent out were passed around.

Balink says his office is busy right now and not legally obligated to give a progress update every time someone asks.

The unofficial numbers on provisional ballots may be in by Tuesday. All election results have to be certified by Friday.

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