Election activist Marilyn Marks has prevailed in her quest to inspect ballots cast in the 2009 city of Aspen election. The Colorado Supreme Court has reversed its decision to hear the case, the city learned Thursday morning. That means a Court of Appeals ruling that supports Marks’ position will stand. The state’s high court had agreed in April to hear the city of Aspen’s motion to appeal the Court of Appeals decision. There was no explanation from the Supreme Court regarding its change of direction, but it means the Court of Appeals ruling in Marks’ lawsuit against City Clerk Kathryn Koch, custodian of the ballots, has been upheld. “Marks v. Koch is now clearly the law of the land,” Marks said. “I love closure,” was all Koch had to say about the latest development.
Both Marks and city attorney Jim True expressed surprise Thursday at the turn of events and the city, in a prepared statement, said it was “disappointed” but will comply with the Court of Appeals decision and make the 2009 ballots available to Marks for inspection. The city’s Election Commission will set up a procedure to comply with Marks’ request, True confirmed, but Marks said she’s not in a rush to inspect the digital images and paper ballots that were generated in 2009 — the first and only election in which the city used instant runoff voting. “I don’t think I’ll be running down to City Hall next week,” said Marks, who said deadlines and hearings in her other legal battles around the state, also related to ballot issues, are keeping her busy. Still, she said she’d like to make arrangements within the next couple of weeks to view the city ballots.
Marks was a candidate for mayor in the 2009 election, losing to Mick Ireland. The city denied her request to view the ballots, citing citizens’ constitutional right to a secret ballot, but Marks asserted that citizens have a right to view ballots and verify the results of an election. She also said, however, that she had no interest in overturning the results generated by the city’s only stab at instant runoff voting.