Colorado’s chief election official says he believes that an unsuccessful Aspen mayoral candidate deserves to win a lawsuit against the city demanding access to ballot images from the 2009 municipal election.
The suit filed by City Hall critic and ‘09 candidate for mayor Marilyn Marks was dismissed last year by local District Judge James Boyd. Marks has appealed the dismissal.
Judge Boyd agreed with city attorneys that allowing the public to inspect photographic images made of the ballots cast in the May 5, 2009 election would violate state law protecting secret voting. City Clerk Kathryn Koch denied an open records request from Marks to view the ballot images, prompting Marks to sue for access.
The case is currently in the hands of the Colorado Court of Appeals, where Marks’ attorneys and city attorneys presented oral arguments in April.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler said Saturday in Aspen that he thinks Marks ought to prevail in the appeal, because she’s right.
“My sense is that it could very well come out in Marilyn Marks’ favor and that they will reverse the lower court’s decision,” Gessler, a Republican, explained. “My legal analysis from the start has been that she has the stronger case.”
Gessler said the secrecy of how people voted in the election is not at risk by releasing images of ballots, because the ballots won’t identify who cast them. He said Marks’ case should be strengthened by the fact that the election was the first in Aspen using an instant runoff voting (IRV) process. That system sought to eliminate runoff elections by asking voters to rank their candidate preference in one election. City voters last year voted down using the sometimes confusing system in the future.