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To recount or not to recount? Former Secretary of State explains likelihood in 3rd Congressional District

As of Monday, Lauren Boebert holds narrow lead over Adam Frisch
To recount, or not to recount? Former Secretary of State explains likelihood in CD3
Posted at 10:07 AM, Nov 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-15 12:07:22-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The race for Congressional District 3 in Colorado is closely divided between incumbent Republican Lauren Boebert and Democratic challenger Adam Frisch.

The district stretches from the Western Slope to Pueblo, and the counties within it are very different.

“You have diversity, both in terms of counties that are very, very Republican and counties that are very, very Democratic," said former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. “You also have counties that are very different within each party. So, Aspen Democrats are very different than Pueblo Democrats... When you throw in the geographic distances, it is one of the largest congressional districts in America.”

As of 4:39 p.m. Monday, Boebert has 162,040 votes and Frisch has 160,918 votes, meaning Boebert leads by 1,122 votes. Colorado law requires a mandatory recount if the race is within a half percent of the leading candidate's votes. Half a percent of Boebert's current lead is around 810 votes, so Frisch would need to close a gap of more than 300 votes to trigger an automatic recount.

“In Colorado, when we have recounts, those usually change the results by a very few votes. They may change the totals by a little bit more, but each side is accumulating votes during that time," Williams said. “Was the race closer than people expected? Yes. But if those results hold, it's pretty clear that Lauren Boebert was the winner.”

Williams said there are still several steps in the race to complete before a potential recount. According to the Colorado Secretary of State's website, "voters have until the 16th to “cure” ballots and military and overseas voters have until the 16th as well for their ballots to arrive. After that we conduct the risk limiting audit to confirm results, then the counties do a canvass and bipartisan boards reconcile the counts, and then finally our office compiles those results. It is at that point that the office would order any mandatory recounts or an interested party could request one for which they would pay."

Important dates to watch include:

  • Nov. 29 – Last day for county audit boards to report results of the risk limiting audit
  • Nov. 30 – Last day for county canvass board to submit official abstract of votes cast
  • Dec. 5 – Last day for SoS to compile results and certify or order mandatory recounts as appropriate
  • Dec. 6 – Last day to request a permissive recount
  • Dec. 13 – Last day to complete a mandatory recount
  • Dec. 15 – Last day to complete a permissive recount

Candidates could always decide to pay for a recount. Both Boebert and Frisch have began fundraising efforts for a recount, promoted on their social media accounts.

“You could actually have a recount, in which case you might want to have observers present or even lawyers present if it comes down to resolving some disputes," Williams said, explaining why the candidates are already raising money. “The other reason you do that is because it's an opportunity to reach out to your base — they're paying attention. And you have the chance to raise money either for this campaign or for a future campaign. And it is certainly possible that when you have a very close election, that there could be a rematch.”

Williams does not believe this race is likely to go to a recount.

“Before you spend that money, it's rational to say, 'Do I think it's going to change?'” Williams explained. “If they're locked in a tight race and say, 'Is this how I should spend my donors' money? Or should I focus on the next phase?'”