County Still Counting Votes

Close races still hanging in the balance as tally drags on

Gila County Building in Payson

Gila County Building in Payson Photo by Andy Towle. |

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A week has passed since the election, but Gila County is still counting ballots.

There are at least 2,134 early and 1,276 provisional ballots left to verify and count, said County Recorder Sadie Jo Tomerlin.

On Monday, the election department workers continued to tally votes through the Veterans Day holiday.

Nonetheless, it could take several more days before they finish counting and post results online, said Linda Eastlick, election’s director.

For close races like the Payson Unified School District school board, Northern Gila County Sanitary District board and Gila County treasurer, the votes could change things dramatically.

A little more than 1,000 votes separate Don Ascoli (R) and Debora Savage (D) in the race for treasurer. Savage, the incumbent, currently has the lead.

In the school board race, only 214 votes separate Shirley Dye from fourth-place finisher Ron Silverman. In the sanitary district race, only 93 votes separate Gary Bedsworth from stealing the win from incumbent LaRon Garrett.

So far, the elections department has counted 18,728 ballots, bringing voter turnout to 58 percent in a county with 32,161 registered voters.

That is far higher than in the primary when only 33 percent turned out.

On Monday, Eastlick reported eight elections department workers counted ballots through the state and federal holiday.

She said Tomerlin had verified the majority of outstanding ballots and her office was now going through the task of processing the ballots.

Each mail-in ballot cast in Gila County goes to Tomerlin’s office first, where the signature is verified.

From there, the unopened envelope makes its way to Eastlick, where her staff verifies the name, opens the ballots, inspects it for any damage and then sends it through the scanner.

Eastlick said they get a number of damaged ballots, that either have stains, food or rips in them. A duplicate ballot is created before being sent through the scanner.

“It is a slow process,” she said.

Eastlick hopes to upload new numbers Tuesday, but a final vote count may not appear for days.

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