Letter to the Editor – Recount


In 2008, John Duvall lost the election to Henry Schnabel, for Prowers County Commissioner, by 19 votes.   Because the outcome was a few decimal points shy of  0.5%  (the threshold to automatically qualify for a RECOUNT);    the Prowers County Clerk, Dottie McCaslin,  informed  DuVall that he would need to pay the county $7,000 for a RECOUNT of 4,492 votes. 

In 2012, Donald Suefer lost the election to Henry Schnabel, for Prowers County Commissioner, by 72 votes.    Again, because the vote difference was approximately 1.5% (exceeding the threshold for an automatic RECOUNT);   the Prowers County Clerk, Jana Coen, produced a cost estimate of $4,000 for a RECOUNT.    

However, this time, the Prowers County Democrats were well informed of the Colorado Statutes, as well as the realization that the Colorado Secretary of State, Scott Gessler, has allowed county clerks to deploy absurd “intimidation” techniques,  (excessive cost estimates), to discourage recounts and thus prohibit transparency for fair and accurate elections. 

Subsequently, Ms. Coen was challenged on her initial cost estimate of $4,000 (to recount the 3493 votes in the 2012 Prowers County Commissioners races), and presented a revised estimate of $2,200.    Yet, the revised itemized estimate (demand), still included unlawful and excessive charges.   

For instance:   Colorado House District 39 recently performed a recount for approximately 30,000 votes for a cost of $2,100;    and  Douglas County, processed 21,000 ballots in a recount for $800.   Thus, by comparison, Ms. Coen’s revised estimate/demand obviously remained EXCESSIVE! 

In addition to Coen’s unreasonable cost demands; she also provided a directive for the Canvass Board to convene within a matter of hours,  which ultimately circumvented the “citizen-led” Canvass Board’s authority to determine “when” to convene and “how” to conduct the recount;  as well as disenfranchised the Democrat canvass board members from participating on such short notice. 

Although Prowers County Democrats successfully raised the excessive amount of funds necessary for the recount;   we ultimately concluded the County Clerk’s refusal to yield to the “lawful authority” of the Canvas Board,  was yet another unjustified maneuver, signaling that the recount would not be fairly conducted.    Thus, we determined not to pay for a recount, in which Democrats would not be able to effectively and fully participate;  and withdrew the request for recount. 

Unfortunately, these circumstances are not unique to Prowers County, these “road blocks” and “intimidation” tactics are being utilized, indiscriminately, against both Democrat and Republican parties/candidates, throughout Colorado.    Since the Secretary of State will not provide direction to County Clerks to adhere to the law, the only available option is to file costly court cases; which is seldom affordable for candidates or political parties.   

 So how can we ensure transparency in government, including fair and accurate elections?  —   Answer:   Elect officials who will actually honor the law. 


Jillane Hixson
Chair, Prowers County Democrats

Filed Under: Letters to the EditorPoliticsProwers County


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