The Denver clerk and recorder runoff might turn into a recount as López declares victory

This election still isn’t over but don’t worry, you won’t have to vote again.

Denver Clerk and Recorder candidates Peg Perl and Paul López. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver Clerk and Recorder candidates Peg Perl and Paul López. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

As of Wednesday afternoon, the clerk and recorder race is still undecided, with final unofficial results showing Paul López leading Peg Perl by just 315 votes — a percentage difference falling within the threshold of an automatic recount.

The results mirror what happened in May, when three candidates were neck-and-neck in the clerk’s race. López ended up with the highest percentage of votes, squeaking by Perl to leave her in second place.

Perl said Wednesday she had not yet spoken to López. Perl said she’s feeling “cautiously optimistic.”

“It’s been a close race the whole time,” Perl said. “We’re just watching and seeing what will play out.”

López released a statement late Wednesday afternoon declaring victory in the runoff race while acknowledging it was likely headed to a recount. He said he would respect the process to ensure “that every vote is counted and every voice is heard.”

“Thanks to the people of Denver, their passion and hard work, I’m overjoyed to report that the final uncertified results show we have won our race for Clerk and Recorder,” López said in his statement. “Earning your confidence to lead this office is the honor of a lifetime, and I can’t wait to continue our work for the people of Denver.”

Denver Elections Division spokesman Alton Dillard told Denverite on Wednesday that an automatic recount — which hasn’t happened in the 13 years he’s worked at elections — is triggered if the margin of difference falls within one half of one percent, or 0.5. The results currently show a 0.43 percent difference, but that final margin won’t be officially determined until the election results are certified on June 13.

“It could be a really unique occurrence,” Dillard said.

There’s another option for a candidate seeking a recount. Dillard said a losing candidate can request and self-finance a recount if it falls outside the automatic recount threshold. He added in a release that there’s an eight-day window following the election allowing for military and overseas ballots to come in, as well as for unsigned ballots to be “cured.”

The tighest race in Denver’s runoff is also the race most left without a vote on returned ballots. More than 20,650 ballots counted did not include a vote for clerk and recorder.

Perl said she wasn’t necessarily disappointed with those numbers. She said the contested mayor’s runoff took up a lot of people’s attention.

“We knew based on history and talking to people going into it, not as many people knew about the position,” Perl said. “I’ve been very happy with the amount of people who chatted (with me), who voted in the clerk’s race for the first time.”

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