A judge stated Monday a contested order he issued doesn’t bar a citizens group from seeking records from election officials in Chaffee County and five other counties embroiled in a ballots lawsuit. The order, instead, bars the group from circumventing limits on how much information each side can seek from the other side to be used to bolster their positions on the lawsuit, U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Watanabe stated. The elections-activist group Citizen Center had asked Watanabe to rescind a restriction in the order, contending it infringed on rights of the group and its members to use the Colorado Open Records Act.
In February, the Aspen-based group sued election officials in six counties and the secretary of state over a ballot-secrecy dispute. Citizen Center contends the procedures of the officials in Chaffee, Eagle, Jefferson, Boulder, Larimer and Mesa counties may make it possible to trace ballots to particular voters. The position of Chaffee County Clerk and Recorder Joyce Reno is that her procedures protect voters’ anonymity “to the extent possible under the law.”
The officials stated previously in a court filing that Citizen Center targeted the six counties because the group “disagrees with the choices these clerks have made about the best way to conduct an election.” The judge, in a 12-page decision on Monday, lifted the portion of the order that applied to members of the group members, but kept the order in place against the group.