A candidate’s request to inspect ballots cast in Aspen’s 2009 municipal election has set in motion similar efforts around Colorado. The end result might be new rules that govern the review of ballots or that withhold them from public inspection altogether.
Meanwhile, Aspen resident and 2009 mayoral candidate Marilyn Marks is expected to review on Tuesday 100 ballots cast in Pitkin County’s Nov. 1 election. Rather than simply eye the ballots, though, Marks has suggested that county Clerk and Recorder Janice Vos Caudill and a group of election officials look over 100 to 200 ballots with Marks and discuss whether any of them are “identifiable.”
The potential to link a voter to a particular ballot via various election information that is available to the public through the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) has emerged as a concern among county clerks across the state as they respond to ballot requests from Marks and others.
Vos Caudill, however, indicated last week that she would select unidentifiable ballots for Marks’ inspection and leave it at that. Copies of 25 of the ballots, of Marks’ choosing, will be provided to her in digital form on a disc, Vos Caudill said.
Vos Caudill, along with other county clerks around the state, fear that in some instances, a voter could be linked to a particular ballot if ballots are made public along with other information. Already available through a CORA request, she noted, are the names of individuals who voted in a particular election, the date they voted, the method by which they cast the ballot (mail-in, early voting or at the polls) and the style of ballot they cast. Ballot style refers to the questions on a particular ballot; an Aspen voter likely would see different questions on a countywide ballot than a Basalt voter would, for example, while other measures could appear on both ballots.
Marks initially asked to see 605 ballots from the Nov. 1 Pitkin County election — the ballots that were tallied on one day, on one particular machine — which were randomly chosen for a post-election, state-mandated audit. Instead, she will see 100 of the audited ballots.
The county conducted a mail-only election this fall, though some people dropped off their mail-in ballots in person. The group of 605 ballots includes some from all 10 county precincts, according to Vos Caudill. The group of audited ballots happened to include 49 from Precinct 10 — the Redstone area. Four different styles were among the 49, she said. Two of the styles were each cast by five voters. If all five ballots of one style reflected the same vote on any issue, it would be possible to identify how five people actually voted on a particular measure, Vos Caudill explained.
Marks doesn’t disagree, though she believes that the vast majority of ballots probably aren’t identifiable in that way. “I think there might be a tiny, tiny handful,” she said.
Full Article: Ballot transparency a statewide debate | AspenTimes.com.