An Aspen election-integrity activist is suing Secretary of State Scott Gessler and his office, saying Colorado has set an overly restrictive standard for who may allege violations of federal election law.
“When an election irregularity occurs, it’s important that anyone be able to complain and have their complaint fully investigated,” Marilyn Marks said Wednesday. “If a very, very high hurdle is up, it will discourage complaints. It sends a message to the county clerks that ‘You don’t have to worry; we’re not going to let anyone complain.’ ”
Marks filed a complaint in April alleging that violations of the federal Help America Vote Act occurred during the 2010 general election in Saguache County — an election so plagued with problems, it prompted a statewide grand jury investigation.
An HAVA complaint differs from a complaint alleging violations of state election law in that the secretary of state is required to respond to an HAVA complaint within 90 days and to hold a hearing if the complainant requests one.
Among the violations Marks alleged was that the voting system used in Saguache County, in south-central Colorado, had an unacceptably high error rate.
Gessler’s office dismissed Marks’ complaint, saying Colorado law allows only people who have been “personally aggrieved” or who personally witnessed a violation to file an HAVA complaint. The office determined Marks did not meet that standard.
Colorado’s standard is different from that of HAVA, which states that “any person who believes there is a violation” may file an HAVA complaint.