Adams County is coming under increasing scrutiny — including the prospect of a legal challenge in court — after County Clerk Karen Long did not disclose that nearly 200,000 ballots in the November election could be traced back to individual voters. Gary Mikes, chairman of the Adams County Republicans, said Long should have come forward about the erroneously marked ballots six weeks ago, when she first detected the problem in late October. Long did not notify the secretary of state’s office of the error until Dec. 9, and issued a news release the next day. “It was her responsibility to inform everybody when she found that out,” Mikes said.
It’s a week after Election Day and they’re still counting votes in Colorado, where some are blaming a new state law that replaced polling booths with mandatory mail-in ballots. Top-ticket races have been decided—Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper was re-elected and Republican Cory Gardner unseated Democratic Sen. Mark Udall—but the vote totals in a dozen state House and Senate races remain unknown. Democrats currently have a 37-28 majority in the House and are expected to keep it. But they did lose the Senate, where the Republicans will hold an 18-17 edge after being in the minority for a decade. And although those outcomes are unlikely to change once all the votes are counted, there is frustration with the new process, especially among the grass-roots.
Editorials: Colorado Secretray of State Gessler repeals controversial email/internet voting rules | Marilyn Marks/Colorado Statesman
On Thursday, Secretary of State Scott Gessler repealed the controversial email/internet voting rules that had been promulgated for the two recall elections for use by absentee voters. The rules were the subject of much controversy and were challenged in the Libertarian Party’s lawsuit concerning a variety of recall election procedures. While the Denver District Court found some of the recall rules in violation of statutes, Judge McGahey seemed willing to allow the use of email ballots, “for this election.” He ordered that absentee ballots must be made available to everyone without requiring an “excuse.” That ruling was anticipated, as Colorado has been a “no-excuse” state for many years. The use of email rather than mail or hand delivery for absentee ballots would proliferate, and the Secretary quickly decided that this was unworkable and repealed the rule. We applaud his quick decision to provide more security to the recall election processes. The Libertarians (and Citizen Center) had fought the introduction of email ballots for any use other than military overseas with no safer option (that is current law), and true medical emergencies. The original SOS rules issued August 16 allowed email transmission and return of all absentee ballots. After considerable public input, revised rules were issued to decrease the return of ballots by email, but still allow the email delivery of ballots to voters to be returned by U.S. Mail.
Voting Blogs: Another legal challenge? Colorado law mandates a vote on the recall question for a successor vote to count | Recall Elections Blog
The Citizen Center’s Marilyn Marks has pointed out that the Colorado Recall requires that voters must cast a ballot on the yes-or-no recall question if they want to vote for a successor candidate. Just to be clear: Colorado, like California, has what I call a two-step/same-day recall vote — voters cast one ballot which has two parts: step one is the question of “Should this official be recalled?” and step two is “Who should be named as a replacement?” Colorado’s Constitution very clearly states that if you don’t vote on the recall question, any second vote is tossed out and doesn’t count. This is a ripe avenue for litigation, as California had the same provision in 2003. A US District Court tossed it out as unconstitutional (the case was not appealed). San Diego is facing the same question (which may very well be tossed out there as well). This one could be another minefield for the Secretary of State and the local Clerks.
Images of the ballots cast in the 2009 municipal election are available for public inspection now that a four-year legal battle between City Hall and an Aspen resident has come to a close. The city of Aspen made 2,415 ballot images available Thursday on its website, and released them to the attorney for Marilyn Marks, who sued the city for access to the ballots. There were a total of 2,544 ballots cast in the 2009 election; 129 of them have been withheld due to identifying markers that could be traced back to a voter. Marks, who on Thursday said she has not spent much time examining the images posted online, wondered why the city withheld 129 ballots and if officials plan to attempt to make contact with voters who cast them since it’s illegal to make distinguishing marks on a ballot.
Last year, the Pew Center for the States released a report titled “Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient: Evidence That America’s Voter Registration System Needs an Upgrade.” Among other things, it revealed that “almost 2.7 million people appear to be registered in two states, and more than 70,000 people could be registered in three or more.” The Colorado legislature isn’t helping matters with House Bill 1303, which has passed both chambers and awaits the governor’s signature. The bill requires mail ballots be sent to all registered voters, whether they’ve cast ballots in recent elections or not — and halted when the ballot is returned or the state learns through other checks that someone has moved or died. One critical backstop is the National Change of Address file maintained by the Postal Service. But in an era in which snail mail is rapidly losing its relevance, particularly for young adults, that file is hardly comprehensive. And yet as Pew points out, “Census numbers from 2009 reveal one in four adults ages 25 to 34 changed residences.” So what happens in homes where, say, a 20-something takes a job in another state? The ballots could just keep on coming.
Colorado: Colorado bill raises the possibility of voter fraud and intimidation, critics say | Washington Free Beacon
Colorado’s Democratic-controlled state legislature is ramming through an election bill that critics say will open the door to voter fraud and intimidation. The “Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act” is expected to pass the legislature this week. Democrats control both chambers of the legislature, as well as the governor’s mansion, meaning the bill could pass without a single Republican vote. The bill is under consideration amid accusations that Republicans in other states have tried to suppress the vote by passing laws that require some form of identification in order to vote.
Election integrity advocate Marilyn Marks has filed a Help America Vote Act (HAVA) complaint with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office concerning the Saguache County 2012 General Election. The complaint was filed after examination of M-100 machine tapes showed apparent discrepancies in the vote tabulation. Marks’ activities in Saguache County came under fire this summer and fall prior to the general election after commissioners candidates Jason Anderson and Ken Anderson, who later won their election bids made it clear they felt Marks was unjustly interfering in Saguache County business and should butt out.
Colorado: It’s no secret: Judge tosses ballot privacy lawsuit against Larimer County CO | The Coloradoan
A federal judge in Denver ruled Friday that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee the right to a secret ballot. U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello dismissed a lawsuit brought by voting-rights activists with the Aspen-based Citizen Center that accused Colorado election officials including the Larimer County clerk’s office and Secretary of State Scott Gessler of managing voted ballots in a way that is traceable to individual voters. “Coloradans until today have believed they are entitled to a secret ballot,” said Citizen Center founder Marilyn Marks. “Now we’re being told we are mistaken.”
The election reform advocate who has been blowing the whistle on ballots that can be traced back to voters is claiming that she “broke the code” to Boulder County’s ballot-numbering system last week. But Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall submitted a new, more complex vote-counting process to Secretary of State Scott Gessler this week, and that may make the discovery moot. Marilyn Marks, who filed suit against Gessler and several Colorado counties after it was revealed that ballots could be traced back to voters in Chaffee County, told Boulder Weekly that she figured out how to track voter identities using Boulder County’s system of serial numbers and bar codes, an approach that she says violates state law. The state Constitution says “no ballots shall be marked in any way whereby the ballots can be identified as the ballot of the person casting it.” In response to the Chaffee County discovery, Gessler issued an emergency rule saying counties must stop using numbers on ballots.