The Count goes on: How long before we know the winner?

Cross Currents: A column by Bill Christopher
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 11/3/20

In keeping with the world of electronics, algorithms, mega computers and a thirst for instant results, Americans expect to know the outcome of an election the same night, right after the polls close …

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The Count goes on: How long before we know the winner?

Posted

In keeping with the world of electronics, algorithms, mega computers and a thirst for instant results, Americans expect to know the outcome of an election the same night, right after the polls close across the country.

It shouldn’t be that difficult, because that is what computers are for, right?

While many of us still recall the hanging chad dilemma and the need for a U.S. Supreme Court decision in the 2000 Gore versus Bush Presidential race, the current election results are much more likely to be drawn out.

Given the huge early voting that took place with some states not able to begin counting ballots until the polls close, this in itself will be a time-consuming situation. Also, some of the “battleground” states may go down to the wire late in their counting to declare an Electoral winner. According to the New York Times, there are more than 300 pending lawsuits across 44 states over issues relating to pandemic voting.

And of course, there is the wildcard as to what Mr. Trump will do, assuming he is on the losing end of the Electoral vote. I see a scenario where he attempts to force a court decision on the election outcome under the banner of fraud and hope that his 6-3 conservative U.S. Supreme Court will come through for him.

So, I am hoping you didn’t stay up to the wee hours Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning only to be sleepy and frustrated.

Colorado has an election system to count on

I think it is appropriate to congratulate Colorado state legislators, the Secretary of State and the state’s voters for implementing and supporting the efficient and fraud-free voting system that we enjoy. It has worked smoothly even with the pandemic at play.

The statewide mail-in/drop-off ballot system is a model for other states to follow. I have heard that at last count close to two million Coloradoans had voted without any muss or fuss. For the life of me, I cannot understand why states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin have not updated their state election laws to at least allow early processing and ballot-counting prior to election day.

Counting signatures as recall effort awaits results

Speaking of waiting on outcomes, the gathering of signatures on the recall petitions targeting Atchison, Seitz, Skulley and Voelz on the Westminster City Council will have come to a close this past weekend. All the petitions were turned in to the City Clerk’s Office Friday.

Now, the City Clerk’s Office and the outside contract person have the task of determining the validity of signatures and whether a sufficient number of valid signatures were submitted to trigger a recall election. There were petitions circulated for each of the four named individuals.

Theoretically, there could be as many as the four individuals on a recall ballot to as few as one or none. Obviously, if there are not any petitions determined to be sufficient, then there will not be a special election.

What is best for the community?

Reflecting on why the recall petition drive was ignited by a group of upset resident utility customers, I have previously mentioned how this whole debacle could have been avoided. If only one of the four who are targeted to be put on a recall election ballot had seen the merit in “rolling back” the 2020 water rate increase, I believe there would not have been this divisive effort.

Anyway, I have a suggestion for the august Mayor and City Council to consider which could take a little of the sting out of this whole mess assuming the recall fails on all fronts.

Why not a gesture of good will from City Hall?

Looking at the city’s monthly financial reports, the City Council could take a very small portion of the record-breaking 2020 water sales revenue and grant a one-time, year-end credit or refund to all water customers. According to the adjusted 2020 Water Fund Budget, $50.7 million in just water sales alone will have been received by the end of the calendar year.

That figure does NOT include $10 million in water tap fees or the $9.7 million in funds carried over from 2019. This would be a gesture to say to the community we regret the negative impact created this summer for so many of you with the exceptionally high water bills.

Some ways to count up a credit or refund

There are several ways to approach a refund/credit. One way, which I would not recommend, would be to give every water utility account the same dollar amount.

What would be fairer would be to set aside an amount of the water sales revenue — say $3 million, for example — and distribute that on a percentage of each account’s highest summer billing.

A third idea would be to set a minimum threshold of “$X” on the utility accounts and calculate a percentage of those higher bills to receive the refund/credit.

It shouldn’t be that difficult, because that is what computers are for!

There is time to do this if there is the will to do so. And it would be good to remind all utility customers of the previous decision NOT to raise the water rates in 2021 and pray for a wet summer.

If we have another hot and dry summer, it will be a repeat of the 2020 horrific water bills. Remember, that 3rd tier of over $12 per 1,000 gallons is a killer. (The pricing of the tiers needs reconfiguration).

Counting COVID cases in Adams County

In the scurry of life’s daily attention-grabbers, we must not forget the COVID19 virus and the surge in new cases so many Americans are experiencing. Unfortunately, Coloradoans are no different.

In particular, Adams County’s surge in new cases is very alarming. We are faced with the distinct possibility of a “Stay at Home” order after November 11 if the trend does not get altered downward or leveled-out quickly. Just last week, our county was ordered to go to “Safer at Home Level 3” which reduced the capacity of a number of categories such as restaurants (25% of capacity or max of 50) along with non-critical businesses/ retail and houses of worship. Our businesses, especially restaurants and bars, cannot survive for an extended period of time if they are ordered to operate at 25% of such minimal capacity — let alone be shut down. We are facing a crisis.

Demographics provide important insight

In researching why Adams County is the highest case incident level per 100,000 population, I found two major demographic contributors which are at play. First, the age group of 18-44 has 7,448 cases of the 13,976 total cases which is more than one half (53%) of all virus cases in the county.

Secondly, 7,490 of the cases in Adams County are people of Hispanic descent. Again, this is 53% of the county’s total cases. Extra assistance and education to this demographic group is highly warranted by Tri-County Health and Adams County officials.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media. You can contact him at bcjayhawk68@gmail.com.

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