AURORA | Aurora City Council Ward III candidate Jono Scott has formally asked Arapahoe County election officials for a recount of the race he lost by 128 votes. He’s doing so on behalf of the Arapahoe County Republican Party, he said.
Scott trailed opponent Ruben Medina by more than 0.5% of the votes cast, which is the threshold that dictates an automatic recount.
“It’s not that I’m a conspiracy theorist or want to stir things up. I’m not an insurrectionist, but I am a firm believer in due process,” Scott told the Sentinel Thursday afternoon. “I’ve been so inundated with questions and coincidences and concerns that I want what’s best for Ruben and best for the process and instill confidence in this process.”
Scott said he believes that he’s lost the race to Medina, a longtime city employee, but wants to put any questions of election legitimacy to rest via a recount. He said he believes the recount will also be in Medina’s best interest.
Medina could not be reached for comment at the time of publishing.
Arapahoe County GOP chair Suzanne Staiert, an election lawyer who formerly worked as a deputy secretary of state under Wayne Williams, said she was told by the county clerk’s office Scott’s campaign had to make the recount request, but the party has already voted to fund the effort. A recount cost was not immediately available from Arapahoe County.
Scott said he’s ready to be done with the election, but after conversations with Republican peers believes a recount is the best way forward.
“I was reserved to move on, but I agreed (to initiate the recount). They didn’t twist my arm, but they explained it and said we need your approval to do this,” he said. “I had to approve it, but I wasn’t necessarily the one driving it. And they’re not driving it as a conspiracy model, but believe it’s best for all parties involved.”
Staiert said the Arapahoe County GOP requested that the Ward III contest be chosen for a risk-limiting audit, but because the state declined the group opted for funding a recount.
In a risk-limiting audit, which has been performed in Colorado elections since 2017 and Arapahoe County piloted the program in 2013, counties are given a list of specific ballots to examine in a specific race. The voter markings are reported to the state to ensure accuracy.
This year, the Arapahoe County race chosen was a Littleton Public Schools director race, which accounted for about a quarter of total votes cast in Arapahoe County. The Ward III race, with about 8,000 ballots cast total, was much smaller comparatively.
The SOS chooses contests for audits based on factors such as geography, how many ballots were cast and closeness of the race. In 2019, it was the Aurora mayoral election between Mike Coffman and Omar Montgomery. About 70,000 ballots were cast in that race in Arapahoe County.
The audit performed this week was approved by both parties, according to Arapahoe County.
“The 2021 Coordinated Election audit had a 3% risk-limit, which means that 97 times out of 100 the audit would catch any incorrect outcome and correct it,” county officials said in a news release. “The successful audit this year statewide means there is that high level of confidence in the outcome of the 2021 election.”
Staiert said the party pushed the Colorado Secretary of State’s office to use the Aurora Ward III race or an at-large race, but that request was declined.
Arapahoe County can request the state add audits to its list, but did not do so in this election.
While Scott said it’s not his intent with the recount to reinforce doubt on the election system, the recount effort hasn’t been seen that way by Arapahoe County Democratic Chair Kristen Mallory.
“It is perfectly on brand for the GOP to continue to forward the big lie about a stolen election and they don’t hide they believe conspiracy theories about election fraud,” she said. “But Colorado has the safest and most state of the art system. Other states look to us to do better elections and I have full faith in the outcome. It’s just right on brand.”
Mallory said the party wouldn’t pay for a recount in a race below the automatic recount threshold.
“We have no interest in that,” she said.