MESA COUNTY, Colo - Delegates from the Mesa County Republican Assembly in March are questioning the results of the vote that decided the primary ballot for the State Senate District 7 race.
"In this particular race between Ray Scott and Dan Thurlow, there was only a four vote difference that got Dan Thurlow on the ballot." Diane Cox, one of a few delegates calling for the party to count the paper ballots from the assembly, said. "We really have to verify the vote, otherwise, it's really not a legitimate vote."
Current Colorado House Representative Dan Thurlow is challenging incumbent, Ray Scott for the Republican Party nomination for the state senate seat. To get on the primary ballot, a candidate needs 30% of the vote. In Mesa County's case, that equals 67.5 delegates, rounded to 68. Thurlow received 72 through a voice count during the March 17th assembly, equal to 32% of the vote.
"When it's that close you really need to count the paper ballots to just to verify accuracy." Cox said.
However, the assembly rules, don't call for paper ballots, rather vote by voice. A delegate leader calls to the party chair the number of delegates in support of each candidate. As an example, " Four votes for Ray Scott, three for Dan Thurlow." The county chairman, will then repeat that number back.
"The paper ballots are meaningless," Thurlow said, "That's not the vote."
This is how the votes are declared from a county level up to state delegate counts that are tallied at the national assembly, like the 2016 Republican National Convention where state party chairs announce the delegate counts for presidential candidates. Thurlow says, that's to hold delegates responsible, as they are voting for party constituents that voted the delegates themselves to a county or national convention.
"That transparency is created by that voice announcement of the votes, then people have the chance to object." Thurlow said, "say at the General Election, you're voting for yourself, so you have the right to a private ballot. You don't have that right at the Senate [District] 7 assembly. "
The issue was raised shortly after the county assembly, as delegates like Cox, wanted them to be reviewed. Paper ballots were locked under video surveillance at the Mesa County Elections office until the Colorado Republican Party Chair, Jeff Hays, decides what to do with them on Friday. County Assembly results are rarely sealed in such a fashion.
Thurlow says, they were put in a ziplock bag after the assembly and says he trusts the voice vote more than what is on the paper.
"The paper ballots may not even be right. People have a right to change their vote at any time through the process."
The county assembly results will be finalized on April 27th.