A citizen group fighting election officials in Chaffee and five other counties contends a judge’s order violates the group’s right to obtain public records from the officials. The order restricts the group’s members from requesting records for information the group’s attorney can obtain from the officials, through normal court process, for its lawsuit against them. “A gag order like this one is obviously a gross infringement on our collective rights,” alleged Marilyn Marks, Aspen, the founder of the group Citizen Center. The group is asking Magistrate Judge Michael Watanabe to rescind his June 4 order.
Chaffee County Clerk and Recorder Joyce Reno is one of the officials who is a defendant in the lawsuit in U.S. District Court. Marks would not say how many members her group has in Chaffee County or overall. The other counties being sued are Eagle, Jefferson, Boulder, Larimer and Mesa. The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the officials to change procedures for this year’s elections. Citizen Center alleges the election officials’ procedures may make it possible to trace ballots to individual voters. Reno’s position is that her procedures protect voters’ anonymity “to the extent possible under the law.”