Wherever you go in Colorado, the most public-be-damned civil servant is likely to be the county clerk.
I’ve reached this conclusion with regret, since my experience with clerks over many years, without fail, has been pleasant and fruitful. But the clerks this year have dug themselves into a stance that endangers the integrity of elections. Moreover, to protect their monopoly on access to voted ballots — a monopoly to which they clearly have no right under the Colorado Open Records Act — they are trying to scare the public with lurid tales of how voter anonymity is at risk.
Back in March, you may recall, the clerks association denounced a bid by Secretary of State Scott Gessler to conduct an official, public recount of a contested election in Saguache County, claiming his “proposal sets a dangerous precedent.” The clerks’ real fear, however, was not that Gessler might look over their shoulder but that he would let the public do so, too. And he did — once a district judge ruled in August that “voted ballots are election records” under the open records law, permitting the recount to proceed.
Defeated in Saguache, the clerks have now manned the barricades in Mesa and Jefferson counties to beat back requests to inspect ballots. Those disputes are in court, too. In both cases, the clerks balked at a request from Marilyn Marks, an Aspen resident energized by the lack of transparency in a municipal election, for records of electronic ballots from touch screen machines.
The Mesa clerk and recorder, Sheila Reiner, told Marks that state law mandates voter secrecy — the actual wording is “secrecy in voting” — and then went on to claim, “It is also public expectation that their ballot is secret.”
No, it’s not — or shouldn’t be. Ballots must be anonymous, yet the difference between secret and anonymous is one the clerks continually fudge.
Full Article: Carroll: Colorado’s besieged clerks – The Denver Post.