Broomfield election judges on Friday morning opened and examined a box of previously uncounted ballots and other election-related materials. The box contained 80 items — mostly spoiled, undeliverable or unvoted ballots and some ripped envelopes and other materials.
As of 12:45 p.m., it was still unclear how the contents of the box will impact the already embattled election, which is the subject of three legal challenges and was the subject of a scathing report by the Secretary of State's Office.
Broomfield elections administrator Michael Susek said the box was used to collect ballots deemed not countable in the election, but some voter advocacy groups say the box's contents should have been accounted for during the election instead of being catalogued now.
The box was located in Susek's office until Friday, when the unsealed metal box was opened and catalogued in front of an audience of residents and news crews.
The process started at 10 a.m. and is not yet complete. After a lunch break, election judges and staff plan to consult with the Secretary of State's Office to determine how to proceed with the contents of the box, and whether the initial review of the materials could impact the future of the election.
City Attorney Bill Tuthill said staff learned about the box just before New Year's Eve and began going through it to see what was inside. After looking at several items in the box, staff decided it was more appropriate for election judges to categorize and examine the materials, not city staff.
It appeared the ballots included in what Tuthill called the "anomaly box" couldn't be counted in the Nov. 5 election, because they were either returned undeliverable or contained enough mistakes they warranted a voter request for a new ballot; such ballots are considered "spoiled."
During the examination Friday, election judges found items in the box included ballots issued to people who died before the election, ballots from people who were out of state during the election or people who moved away and were not eligible to vote. In some cases, the ballot envelopes included notes from residents explaining that a roommate, family member or landlord was no longer living at the location where the ballot was sent for Broomfield's mail-in election.
Several of the unvoted or spoiled ballots inside the box came from Broomfield Skilled Nursing, Susek said. Election judges had to hand-deliver and hand-return ballots from the nursing facility, because residents do not have private mail boxes. Because of privacy concerns, election judges must hand-deliver and hand-return the ballots and help residents at the nursing facility vote if they require assistance, Susek said.
Many of the ballots from Broomfield Skilled Nursing were unopened or had a note on the outside of the envelope saying "not voting" or indicating the intended voter had died or moved away.
Other ballots or ballot envelopes had the word "spoiled" written on them. Several of those ballots were returned to Broomfield's Central Records Office, where voters returned ballots and requested new ones.
The box also contained two other ballots, one of which came from a voter who appeared to have moved to Broomfield from Denver shortly before the election. On the other, the envelope contained a signature different than that of the voter to whom the ballot was addressed.
Contact Enterprise Staff Writer Megan Quinn at 303-410-2649 or firstname.lastname@example.org