Amendment 64 passes in El Paso County

November 20, 2012
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Amendment 64, which legalizes some marijuana use in Colorado, passed by 10 votes in El Paso County, according to final election results released Tuesday.

The amendment, approved by voters statewide, trailed by 3,300 votes in unofficial county results following the Nov. 6 election. When the election canvas was finished, supporters of the controversial ballot measure had further reason to celebrate.

Amendment 64 makes possession and consumption of up to an ounce of marijuana legal, along with marijuana retail stores, and individuals can grow up to six marijuana plants. Marijuana possession remains illegal under federal law.

El Paso County had a record turnout of 292,698 voters — up from 274,707 in 2008 — and 283,382 voted on Amendment 64. Only the race for president attracted more voters in the county.

County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams, who posted official results at 6:08 p.m. Tuesday, said the 10-vote differential on Amendment 64 “would be a mandatory recount if it was a county issue but since it’s a state issue, it doesn’t matter.”

Williams’ election team counted 15,953 additional ballots since Nov. 6, and 13,990 of those made a choice on Amendment 64, with 62 percent in favor.

Of the more than 15,000  ballots counted since Nov. 6, 9,741 were provisional ballots. The rest were overseas, military and mail ballots.

County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution opposing the amendment before the election. Amy Lathen, county commission chairwoman, said part of the issue isn’t settled yet. Amendment 64 includes a provision “permitting local governments to regulate or prohibit such facilities.”

“This board will hear a resolution to ban retail sales in the county,” she said. “(Colorado Springs) City Council has the ability to ban retail sales too. I hope they do that.”

The other ballot measure that had a chance to change with post-election counting remained the same, as Calhan voters passed a one percent tax increase to improve roads.

On Nov. 6, the measure was passing by seven votes and 12 more ballots were counted. The margin was unchanged, and the measure passed 168-161.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Calhan Mayor Blair Bartling. “Now we can plan for the future.”

As soon as money becomes available, Bartling said “small stuff like potholes will be fixed. We’ll keep some of what comes in and build the pot for major projects” like paving 8th Street. Bartling said a separate account will be set up, and citizens will be able to monitor use of the funds.

Williams said the election canvas had to be completed by Friday but he wanted it done quicker.

“We worked very hard and a little bit of extra hours to get done,” he said. “We wanted staff to enjoy the holiday and citizens want the results as fast as possible. By trying to finish sooner it would give us more time to deal with an issue if it came up.”

Williams said an audit was performed on voting machines and they were “100 percent accurate.”

“We checked every touch screen, checked the calibration of every machine,” he said.

“We’re confident they were correct.”

Contact Bob Stephens: 636-0276 Twitter @bobgstephens
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