In a somewhat expected move, the city of Aspen has decided to appeal last week’s state appellate court judgment that said local political activist Marilyn Marks has a right to inspect ballot images from the 2009 mayoral election. “The Aspen City Council has directed staff to appeal the Marks v. Koch case to the Colorado Supreme Court,” says a statement released Tuesday from the City Attorney’s Office. “At issue in the lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2009, is the right of citizens to expect that their cast ballots will remain secret.”
The city maintains that it is residents’ constitutional right to vote their consciences knowing that their ballots will remain “forever secret,” the prepared statement says. The lawsuit against City Clerk Kathryn Koch, who declined Marks’ request to view ballot images from the spring election that Marks lost, states that the Colorado Open Records Act and other state laws allow public ballot inspection as long as it is not possible to discern a voter’s identity. “This case is not about election transparency,” the city’s statement reads. “The 2009 municipal election was one of the most transparent elections in city and state history. This case involves the sanctity of the secret ballot.”
According to the city, the Court of Appeals erred when it held that the Colorado Constitution does not protect the secrecy of ballots. Because the appellate court decision will have statewide ramifications for future elections, the city has deemed it important to ask the State Supreme Court to review the ruling.
Officially, the city has until Nov. 14 to ask the higher court to review the case. In the meantime, the appellate court’s decision will be put on hold, meaning all ballots and ballot images from the May 2009 election will remain inaccessible to Marks or anyone else.
Reached by e-mail Tuesday, Marks described as “ludicrous” the city’s argument about protecting voters’ rights by keeping ballots secret. “My first impressions of the city’s decision and announcement is to shake my head in disbelief that City Council believes that their constituents are going to be fooled by their absurdly illogical and dishonest arguments,” Marks said. “The press release about the right to ‘secret ballots’ is preposterous. The city seems to be arguing that in Aspen, officials may strip voters of their constitutional right to [examine] an anonymous, untraceable ballot and replace that hard-won human right with a ballot that is meant to be a secret — a secret that Big Brother is supposed to keep.”
Full Article: Aspen to appeal ruling over ballot images | AspenTimes.com.