On Tuesday, Colorado Springs voters chose Lionel Rivera as the next mayor. In addition, Scott Hente will take over the District 1 Council seat, and Jerry Heimlicher was voted in for District 3. Four At-Large seats will be filled by Tom Gallagher, Richard Skorman, Randy Purvis and Larry Small. And voters approved extending the TOPS tax until 2025.
The new city leaders will take office on April 15.
But one big question mark about this mail-in ballot election, why did it take so long to count the ballots? More than a day after the election, the totals are still not 100%.
The hold-up, is the signatures on the back of the ballot envelope. This is the first time election officials have used voter's signatures to verify ballots. They had to look at thousands of signatures and compare them to county records to make sure they're valid.
Even before the election, some voters questioned the security of mail-in ballots. In the past, the city used birth dates to verify ballots. But this time the clerk used signatures as a way to help reduce fraud. "It has become more of an outcry, that the signature is more the verifying factor, because people can find out other people's birth dates but you can't always capture someone's signature," says City Clerk Kathryn Young.
Young says her staff does catch fraudulent signatures, but it takes up to two hours to manually verify 200 ballots. And they had to check 30% of the signatures. Over time, a person may change the way they write a letter or two. But the clerk says there's a certain flair that stays the same.
Young says she suspects about fifty ballots may have been forged. She plans to ask the city attorney's office to take a look at them. "Someone who is very versed in signature analysis and go over those with us and we will file charges if they are appropriate," says Young.
For detailed election information: Colorado Springs Election Results