October 31, 2014

Election ballots are open public records, Colorado courts say

Bev Harris
ASPEN, Colo.–The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision has affirmed that
election ballots are open public records. As a result, the public will be able
to examine Colorado’s voted ballots in 2012 elections.
Marilyn Marks, founder of The Citizen Center, in a project sponsored by Black
Box Voting, sued the city of Aspen when she was denied the right to examine
ballot images.
In September, 2011, the Colorado Appeals Court ruled that ballots
are indeed open public records. The city tried to obtain a reversal on the
Colorado Supreme Court decision. The Supreme Court decided not to hear the case,
choosing to end the controversy in favor of election transparency.
“This is a welcome decision that reconfirms the vitality of the Colorado Open
Records Act as a powerful tool that permits ordinary Coloradans to hold their
state and local governments accountable,” said Marks’s attorney Robert A.
McGuire of Denver.
“Colorado election officials have fought transparency, despite numerous
pro-transparency court rulings and Secretary of State Gessler’s guidance that
anonymous, untraceable ballots are open public records. Voters’ ballots must be
untraceable, voted in private and counted in public, as the courts continue to
affirm,” Marks added.
The Citizen Center is now in litigation against the Secretary of State and six
Colorado County clerks in Citizen Center versus Gessler, et al. The lawsuit seeks to
vindicate Colorado voters’ constitutional rights to a secret ballot. Secretary
Gessler and the defendant clerks of Boulder, Chaffee, Eagle, Jefferson, Larimer,
and Mesa believe that Colorado election officials are NOT PROHIBITED from
knowing how individual voters’ vote.
We hope that the federal court will act in time to protect the 2012 presidential election from the clerks’ improper
continuing practices of creating traceable ballots,” Marks said.
Harvie Branscomb, election quality advocate who has worked with Marks since 2009
to seek the Aspen ballots for analysis of the Instant Runoff Voting process
said, “The Supreme Court decision serves as a valuable reality check. Colorado
election officials must now recognize that we ordinary citizens deserve the
access we need to independently count our publicly owned and untraceable
ballots.”
Colorado Voter Group Trustee, Al Kolwicz, said, “The Court’s decision strongly
supports the concept that elections belong to the people, not to government
bureaucrats.”
Marks acknowledged the research, support and expertise provided by Bev Harris
and Black Box Voting as instrumental in helping achieve this victory. “The
Colorado Project” of BlackBoxVoting.org also supports the efforts of Citizen
Center through providing expertise and technical resources on matters of
election transparency.
Citizen Center is a non-profit non-partisan organization based in Aspen,
Colorado, with a focus on government transparency and election quality. For more
information on The Citizen Center, visit: LINK

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