Election results great for schools, slow to come in

It is a rare person that isn’t ecstatic the elections season is over, regardless of how they voted.

The biggest reason? Election advertisements, especially in our area, when our citizens are bombarded with television advertisements, that are not only political, but are from New Mexico. We can’t even vote for these politicians!

And the happiest of everyone? Montezuma County Schools.

The voters in Montezuma County, overwhelmingly supported Montezuma County Schools. In Mancos, teachers will get raises and additional instructional material because of a mill levy. In Cortez, high schools students will get a new school and in Dolores, the much-talked about failing science building will be replaced.

Voters had our future in mind when they went to the polls and that was our students.

But who would have predicted that Montezuma County residents would go to bed on Election Night knowing who had won the hard-fought presidential contest but still waiting to hear about local races?

As staffers waited for local results, the Internet displayed results from other Colorado counties — big counties, small counties, counties approximately the same size as Montezuma. Come at 9, our clerk said. Or 11. Or midnight. Or tomorrow. Or watch the clerk’s website — which was not updated when all the votes were tallied.

It’s the clerk’s job to make sure the office has sufficient equipment and staff to handle elections efficiently. This isn’t the first time the election process has gone wrong here, but this must be the last, because Montezuma County citizens are not well served.

Many people, including the Dolores School District Superintendent stayed up into the wee hours of the morning waiting. For it was still unclear if Measure 3C had passed with 1,384 votes still not reported, that was well over 50 percent of the votes. Over $6 million was at stake for Dolores students and on Wednesday morning after Election Day everyone could only say, “Well, I think it passed.” It wasn’t until after 10 a.m. that morning, that we all knew for certain and could celebrate in ernest.

Accuracy is more important than speed, but the 2012 ballot was not particularly long and complicated, the turnout — while laudable — was not overwhelming, and not a single result was close at all.

Elections aren’t recreational exercises. The results matter. They can change the course of people’s lives, and even when they don’t, they reflect, legally, the wishes of people who cared enough to vote. That’s no small thing.

Elections also don’t sneak up on the people running them. There’s plenty of time to plan for various possibilities, including the one that a lot of ballots would be cast or delivered on Tuesday. After all, it hasn’t been too many years since they all were.

We hope that the new commission will work to ensure that the clerk’s office has the resources necessary to perform on Election Day. And we hope that next Election Day, voters will make clear their preference for a county clerk who is up to this important responsibility.