ALAMOSA — Results in the race for who will represent Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District are too close to call and not likely to be updated until either Thursday night or Friday of this week.
Currently, election clerks across the district are processing and counting ballots coming from overseas and the military. Thousands of ballots across Colorado are rejected during each election for issues related to signature verification, including several thousand votes in the district. According to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, 21,838 ballots were rejected in Colorado in the 2020 election. Some of those were in CO-3.
It is not known how many rejected ballots are spread out across the district, which covers almost half of Colorado’s land mass. But, as part of a process called “ballot curing,” local officials have notified those voters whose ballots have been rejected. Those votes will be counted if issues are resolved in time. But the clock is ticking.
According to Ballotpedia, election law in Colorado — one of 23 states that allow ballot curing — states that voters of ballots with missing/mismatching signatures are notified by mail within three days (or within two days after the election) of any discrepancy. A confirmation form accompanying the letter must be returned to the county clerk and recorder within eight days after Election Day to count.
Out of a race where 322,948 votes have been reported so far, Republican and incumbent Lauren Boebert holds a razor-thin lead of just 1,122 votes over Democratic challenger and Western Slope businessman Adam Frisch. With ballots still being counted from those three sources, the race is very much in the air.
However, even after that final tally, the election may still not officially be over.
If the margin between the two candidates is equal or less than .5%, election laws in the state of Colorado trigger an automatic recount of ballots. The recount must be completed within 35 days of the date of the election. As the race stands on Monday, the margin is .38%.
If the margin is greater than .5%, candidates may request a recount on their own, but they are required to pay for the recount to be conducted.
In the days leading up to the election, Boebert was on Twitter predicting a “red wave”, promising to call Democrats “losers” and even encouraging former President Donald Trump to “do it,” seeming to support his upcoming announcement of a 2024 run for the White House.
In the days immediately following the election, while she was trailing Frisch, Boebert’s campaign was largely silent. On Twitter, Boebert also was silent until an update of votes from Otero County on Thursday put her in the lead. Since then, she has tweeted “Winning!” several times and indicated that she’s confident of winning the race, including congratulating a Republican colleague for “getting us one step closer to firing Nancy Pelosi!”
Then, on Friday, Boebert started fundraising on Twitter, asking for donations to do a recount.
When asked by the Valley Courier for an update on his campaign, Frisch responded that he was “confident to close the gap and hopefully overtake (Boebert) at the end.”
This race has now gained national attention for both the narrow margin between candidates and the surprise it delivered to pollsters and political analysts.
In a voter-mandated, months-long process that included multiple opportunities and avenues for public input and used natural geographic boundaries, population numbers from the 2020 census, demographics and other identifying databases, the Democratic, Republican and unaffiliated appointed members of the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission worked up until (literally) the last minute striving to redefine district boundaries in a way that was equitable, balanced and fair across the state.
Their final map resulted in making CO-3 — that already leaned Conservative — a somewhat stronger Republican district with a projected advantage of plus-8 or equal to plus-9 points. Essentially no one — not even Fvethrityeight, which is an analyzed composite of polls across the nation — had this race on their map.
Boebert’s ongoing fundraising on Twitter throughout her tenure in Congress, along with outside contributions, built a large war chest going into the campaign season. Those resources, plus a significant amount of name recognition from being a frequent figure in the media — most notably for controversial statements and actions — while running against a political newcomer outside of Pitkin County, led all to believe the race was a shoe-in.
One pollster — Colorado-based Keating Research, Inc. — saw a different picture and, in early October, released polls that took Frisch from 7 points behind to a statistical tie.
With House Republicans now projected to have only a very slim majority with races yet to be called, attention is focused on just a handful of districts to see how the midterms finally turn out, including CO-3.