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Students approach the main door to West Middle School.

A bond measure that District 11 officials had hoped would kick off a massive investment in facilities is likely headed for a recount.

With almost 55,000 votes tallied and all ballots counted, issue 4B appears to have failed by just nine votes, preliminary data reported to the Colorado Secretary of State showed.

"It's quite possible there were 10 people sitting at home who could have made the difference in this election," said Anthony Carlson, who ran the campaign in favor of the ballot issue. 

D-11 Board of Education votes to place $350M bond question on November ballot

Colorado law triggers an automatic recount for any race where the vote margin is within one-half of 1% of the ballots cast for the winner. The 4B race is separated by just two one-hundredths of a percent, with 49.99% of votes in favor and 50.01% against. 

The vote margin is remarkably slim, but district officials face an uphill battle in the recount: No El Paso County race has ever been reversed by a recount, Clerk and Recorder spokeswoman Kristi Ridlen said. 

The nail-biting results came on a measure that would have allowed Colorado Springs School District 11 to borrow $350 million, as it seeks to chip away at what it says is a $700 million maintenance backlog. District officials had said the ballot measure would allow them to update heating and cooling systems, modernize STEM facilities and attract top teachers. The bond would have been a key part of the district's $1 billion Facilities Master Plan, unveiled in February, which calls for rebuilding, renovating or repurposing dozens of schools and campuses.

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District 11 would be required to pay for the recount, per Colorado law. The district has the option to waive the automatic recount, but spokeswoman Devra Ashby said it was likely the district "will move forward with the recount process."

Information on how much the recount would cost was not immediately available from the Clerk and Recorder's office. The office in 2016 charged a county commissioner candidate $2,660 to complete a recount of about 7,000 ballots. 

The bond issue race appeared tight on election night, with the measure trailing by about 400 votes in election night results. That margin tightened as an additional 34,000 ballots were counted across the county in the following days, and election officials tallied ballots cast by county residents living outside the United States and processed ballots that had signature verification discrepancies.

Record number of El Paso County ballots submitted on Election Day

The ballots returned from other countries, including military votes, were entered into the public-facing results system maintained by the state on Friday, Ridlen said.

The recount on 4B won't be formally initiated until after the county has completed its state-mandated risk-limiting audit of results and certified them. The audit is expected to be complete by the end of this week, Ridlen said, but the clerk's office won't begin the recount until after a Nov. 30 deadline for candidates in non-automatic recount races to request one. The office has to complete any recounts by Dec. 7, per Colorado law.

Editors Note: This story has been updated to remove a sentence that incorrectly said a D11 school board director race was within the margin for an automatic recount.

Reporter

Evan covers justice and public safety for The Gazette. He is a Colorado Springs native and graduate of The Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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