The Republican National Committee on Thursday called upon Secretary of State Scott Gessler and elections officials elsewhere to look into reports of malfunctioning touch-screen voting machines that may be casting votes for Barack Obama when a voter meant to pick Mitt Romney. In Colorado, Republican officials pointed to a single example of a malfunctioning machine in Mesa County. The GOP asked that voting machines be recalibrated before the polls open Tuesday, that extra technicians be provided and that polling places remind voters to double-check before submitting their selections. In Arapahoe County, where touch-screen machines are the principal means of in-person voting, Clerk Nancy Doty, a Republican, said the request to recalibrate the machines on Election Day was unreasonable. “We have 650 machines,” Doty said. “They’ve already been tested.”
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is reviewing a letter from the Republican National Committee that claims action needs to be taken to remedy reports of voting machine errors. The letter, released Thursday, was written to election officials in six states, including Colorado. The Secretary of State’s Office is currently reviewing the requests in the letter. The RNC writes, “In a significant number of cases, voting machines in your states have populated a vote for Barack Obama when a voter cast his or her ballot for Mitt Romney.” The RNC requests four actions to “mitigate any potential machine errors.”
A woman suing Mesa County elections officials over the release of voting records scored a major victory Thursday. In a separate suit filed against the City of Aspen a judge ruled in her favor, saying digital copies of election ballots are open to public inspection. Now she’s hopeful that ruling will come into play as the case here moves forward.
Aspen resident Marilyn Marks made a request in August to see electronic scans of ballots cast here in Mesa County during the 2010 elections. Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Sheila Reiner denied part of that request, saying the way the ballots are organized in the digital files could reveal how individual citizens voted — violating their right to ballot secrecy. In early September, Marks filed suit against the Clerk’s office for the public release of the records.
Thursday was a good day for Marks, who describes herself as an elections activist. After a two year legal battle with the City of Aspen, she’ll be granted access to digital copies of ballots there, which she says is necessary to verify fair and accurate elections.
An issue of voter secrecy or government transparency in elections? That’s the question at the center of one woman’s lawsuit against Mesa County elections officials. Following the 2010 elections, leaders in Saguache County came under heavy scrutiny when it was discovered there were several problems with the counting of ballots there. Their county uses the same voting system used in both Mesa County and Jefferson County.
“As we have uncovered a number of problems with the ES&S product in Saguache County, I became curious about how it operated in Mesa and Jefferson,” said Marilyn Marks, an elections activist who lives in Aspen.
When it comes to ensuring fair and accurate elections, Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Sheila Reiner says her elections department is among the best. “Here in Mesa County we pride ourselves on being leaders in security, accuracy, and transparency,” said Reiner. But it’s the transparency piece where Marks says Mesa County is among the worst.