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Gazette Premium Content Gessler sends help to oversee Teller County elections

BOB STEPHENS Updated: June 20, 2012 at 12:00 am

Help arrived at the Teller County Clerk & Recorder’s office Wednesday, courtesy of the Secretary of State’s office, to oversee Tuesday’s primary election.

Calls from concerned voters and candidates, including Congressional District 5 candidate Robert Blaha, prompted the move to provide two state staff members to assist Clerk & Recorder J.J. Jamison, in her 18th month on the job.

Rich Coolidge, spokesman for Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s office, confirmed that Blaha’s staff expressed concerns. Coolidge said his office contacted Blaha, District 5 Congressman Doug Lamborn, House District 39 candidates Polly Lawrence and Lu Ann Busse, and both state political parties, about sending two staffers to oversee the election.

Coolidge said other than sending a representative to oversee the Colorado Springs 2011 mayoral election, the Secretary of State’s office hadn’t stepped in during an election since 2004.

Earlier this week, Gessler’s office designated former San Miguel County Clerk Peggy Nerlin as an official election observer and representative of the Secretary of State’s office.

“I lost my main election staff person and wasn’t fast enough to run after that ball and when I got to the bottom of the hill, I wasn’t strong enough to hold it,” Jamison said. “I just couldn’t work fast enough.”

Jamison said the state staffers are “directing me. They’re helping me gather up those balls.”

Voting ends at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Voters can cast ballots by mail, at early voting sites and at polling sites in Teller County.

Part of the concern of candidates and Gessler stemmed from mail ballots that went out without the affadavit and signature line required by law. An additional mailing to voters included those items. The sticker with affadavit and signature line must be returned by July 5 to make a voter’s ballot legal.

“Obviously, there’s no college degree in elections administration,” Gessler said in a Wednesday press release. “Experience managing elections is invaluable and, right now, the Teller County Clerk’s Office needs additional resources to ensure a fair election. We’re taking steps now to manage this election properly so that the people of Teller County can have confidence in the results.”

Contact Bob Stephens: 636-0276 Twitter @bobgstephens

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