Reports of traceable ballots, voting irregularities and a county clerk who was “completely unprepared” for the June primary are prompting concerns about Colorado’s readiness as Election Day draws near in a presidential battleground state. Last week, an elections integrity group asked a federal judge to order clerks in Boulder, Chaffee and Eagle counties to stop marking ballots in a way that allows them to be traced to the person who cast them. If the practice continues, it could lead to election results in those counties — and others that use similar markings — being invalidated, an attorney for the non-profit Citizens Center stated in court filings. Late Monday, Secretary of State Scott Gessler issued an emergency rule prohibiting the markings, saying in a press release “this practice ends today.”
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.
Election officials in Chaffee County and five other counties contend a citizen group suing the officials is trying to create a nonexistent illusion of harm about access to public records. County Clerk and Recorder Joyce Reno and her counterparts in the other counties contend Citizen Center overstated the scope of a court order that restricts requests from the group’s members to view records. The advocacy group, based in Aspen, claimed earlier this month the order violates its right to view records kept by the election officials.
A citizen group fighting election officials in Chaffee and five other counties contends a judge’s order violates the group’s right to obtain public records from the officials. The order restricts the group’s members from requesting records for information the group’s attorney can obtain from the officials, through normal court process, for its lawsuit against them. “A gag order like this one is obviously a gross infringement on our collective rights,” alleged Marilyn Marks, Aspen, the founder of the group Citizen Center. The group is asking Magistrate Judge Michael Watanabe to rescind his June 4 order.