Colorado: All-mail election turnout could exceed past off-year contests | Aspen Daily News Online

A total of 1,813 Pitkin County voters have cast ballots in this fall’s all mail-in election and turnout is on track to exceed prior off-year elections. The county issued a total of 10,720 ballots for this year’s election. That included a late addition of about 2,500 “inactive” voters, earlier this month, who were to be excluded, said elections manager Dwight Shellman.

The clerk’s office began receiving high volumes of ballots in the mail on Oct. 17. Wednesday was the most ballots the county had received yet in a single day so far, with 296, Shellman reported. Turnout is typically low in odd-numbered election years, like 2011, in which there are no state or national candidates on the ballot. Over the last decade, those contests have averaged about 3,200 ballots. Before ballots began coming in this year, Shellman said he was expecting between 3,500 and 4,500. “We would be over the moon if we hit the high end of that,” he said.

Colorado: Pitkin County to release a handful of ballots | Aspen Daily News

The Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office will grant Marilyn Marks’ request to inspect a handful of ballots cast in the 2010 election, County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill announced Monday.

Specifically, Marks — an Aspen resident and a self-described election transparency activist — and anyone else who is interested, will be able to eyeball five to 10 of the ballots from precinct 6, which mostly encompasses Snowmass Village. The review will be conducted Thursday under the watchful eye of Vos Caudill and county elections manager Dwight Shellman, as well as video cameras.

Marks and other observers will not be able to touch the ballots, which will be returned to the ballot box after the review. “What I’m trying to do is break the ice,” Marks said, acknowledging that Thursday’s limited review will be mostly symbolic in her quest for election transparency. “We just need to get used to the idea that this is no big deal … [and] demonstrate to the press and the council that ballots are anonymous.”

Colorado: Marks seeks the release of Pitkin County ballots | Aspen Daily News

A recent Court of Appeals ruling that voted ballots are accessible public records is being put to the test. Marilyn Marks has submitted a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request to the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, seeking to inspect a sample of voted ballots from the 2010 election.

Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill said she is reviewing Marks’ request with County Attorney John Ely. Her office has yet to decide whether to grant the open records filing, and has asked for seven additional days to respond, while normally she would have to answer in three. The extra time, which Marks said is OK with her, puts the deadline at Oct. 18.

The Colorado Court of Appeals released a ruling on Sept. 29 which sided with Marks in her case against the city of Aspen. Marks sued the city after officials denied her CORA request to inspect digital copies of ballots from the May 2009 municipal election, in which Marks was a losing mayoral candidate. The election was also the first and only in the city to use instant runoff voting, a system where voters ranked candidate preferences and those choices were used to simulate later runoff contests.