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Policy: Technology

Fracking ban wins on recount, but questions linger

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Associated Press,Colorado,Campaigns,Energy and Environment,Fracking,Technology

BROOMFIELD, Colo. — A recount showed voters in the Denver suburb of Broomfield narrowly approved a five-year moratorium on fracking, but opponents filed a lawsuit challenging the vote-counting process and some voters' eligibility has been questioned.

The Boulder Daily Camera reports Tuesday's recount showed the measure passed by 20 votes out of nearly 21,000 ballots counted.

The tally after the Nov. 5 election showed the measure passed by 17 votes, close enough to trigger a mandatory recount.

The Broomfield Balanced Energy Coalition, which opposes the moratorium, filed suit in Broomfield District Court Tuesday alleging elections officials didn't give their representatives access to monitor the recount.

The group wants the moratorium blocked while it gathers more information.

Bill Tuthill, Broomfield's city and county attorney, said election watchers got fair access.

City officials said the eligibility of as many as 18 ballots has been questioned. Bill Ozaki, the city and county manager, said a full review of eligibility will be completed this week.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler raised questions about voter eligibility in Broomfield last week.

He said Broomfield counted an unspecified number of ballots from people who were ineligible and rejected ballots from legitimate voters because officials checked only to see which voters had moved from outside of Broomfield, not within the county, during the 30 days leading up to election.

He also said officials incorrectly discounted ballots that were delivered to clerks in other counties.

Broomfield City Councilman Mike Shelton said elections officials should have resolved eligibility questions before the recount or allowed the Council to decide whether to conduct a new election on the moratorium.

Failing to clear up the questions "gives legitimacy to an illegitimate process," he said.

Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, uses pressurized water, sand and chemicals to break apart deep rock and recover more oil or gas. Opponents have questioned the safety of the chemicals used.

The Colorado Oil & Gas Association, the state's largest energy industry group, has sued three other Front Range towns whose residents voted to ban or delay fracking.

The association filed suit Tuesday against Fort Collins and Lafayette. It sued Longmont earlier.

The lawsuit claims the towns do not have the authority to block fracking.

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