Pueblo County Republicans aren't looking for a recount of the votes in the House District 47 election, but they do want an accounting of all the ballots used in the election, Chairwoman Marla Reichert said in text messages Tuesday.
That race was especially close, with Democrat Brianna Buentello defeating Republican Don Bendell by a 321-vote margin. Buentello had 16,324 votes to Bendell's 16,003.
In Otero County, Bendell garnered 3,838 votes, while Buentello received 3,489.
It was a dramatic election with Bendell being slightly ahead on election night, but Pueblo County had thousands of uncounted ballots left to tally during the week. During Thursday's and Friday's counting, her vote totals caught and then passed Bendell.
Reichert said local Republicans have asked Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz for an accounting of all the ballots that were processed by the county's signature-reading technology, as well as an inventory of all the ballots used in the election — ballots voted, returned, damaged, and unused.
"No decision has been made yet pending the completion of our investigation," she said in a message Tuesday afternoon. "We are following up on irregularities reported by some judges and watchers."
Ortiz said the audits being requested aren't standard post-election election reports and would need to be specially created.
"That information is beyond anything required by the election canvasing board," he said Tuesday, referring to the official post-election review and acceptance of results by a six-member bipartisan board. In this case, Reichert was the lone vote against accepting the 2018 election results.
All the ballots counted in the 2018 election had to have a valid voter signature and Reichert said Republicans want an accounting of how those ballots were handled.
The state deadline for requesting a recount in the race passed on Tuesday but the local GOP critics of the election are focusing on process.
Ortiz was reprimanded by state officials after the election for being slow in notifying voters whose ballots had been set aside because of signature or other problems. A Nov. 20 letter from the secretary of state's office said it was clear that Ortiz's office had not sent out any letters to voters to 'cure' ballots during the week of Nov. 1-7, a gap that likely guaranteed that "dozens of votes" would not be counted because voters wouldn't be notified in time to come confirm their votes.
Ortiz said that 675 of those "uncured" ballots remained after the election was over.
Republicans also challenged Ortiz why GOP "watchers" — people appointed by the party to watching vote counting— weren't told about the ballot counting done on Nov. 8 and 9.
Ortiz has replied that his office is required to hire pairs of Republican and Democratic judges to open, handle and process ballots and they did that on the days in question. He has sent Reichert a required security video of the counting done on those days.
Reichert said the purpose of the GOP inquiry is to "make certain that every legitimate vote was counted."