Last fall, Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Scott Doyle invited state lawmakers and a handful of other people to an eye-opening presentation. Flipping through a slide show, Doyle showed them how, because of the level of reporting required for Colorado elections, he could use publicly available logs and reports to locate which ballots that some of the lawmakers — and one legislator’s wife — cast in the 2010 election. Doyle didn’t go so far as to remove the ballots from their sealed boxes to see how each person voted, but his point was clear: If someone had all the pieces at their fingertips, that person could do so, at least for some voters in many counties.
Doyle, then president of the Colorado County Clerks Association, intended the meeting as a warning about what could happen if voted ballots are public documents, as the state Court of Appeals ruled in September.”It’s a danger zone,” Doyle said at the time. But as the revelation that some ballots may be traced spread, horrified election-integrity activists had a different take.
“It’s an abuse of trust,” said Al Kolwicz, a Colorado Voter Group trustee, referring to the fact that someone in a clerk’s office could connect a ballot to an individual voter. Kolwicz filed a complaint with the secretary of state alleging Doyle and some other clerks were violating citizens’ constitutional right to an anonymous vote, and the fight has been raging ever since.