|The city of Aspen||48.65%|
-Aspen's historic May 5, 2009 IRV election audited as single ballots- 5/5/09 Aspen CO held an instant runoff election (IRV) for mayor and 2 council members. Interpreted contents of each ballot, scanned by True Ballot, were publicly released. Open records requests for a CD of image scans were denied. Aspen has been sued to protect records from destruction and to allow inspection of the scanned ballot files. A Court of Appeals ruling holds that unidentifiable ballots are public records.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
In his interview, he talked with Rich Coolidge who stated that SOS office did not know what advice to give, because there is no exemption for voted ballots, and reportedly they are concerned about “protecting voter identity.”
Note my correspondence with Delta County on the matter. Read from the bottom up, after Delta county denied access on the grounds that inspecting ballots would cause “injury to the public interest.”
From: Marilyn R Marks
Sunday, July 25, 2010
The following email was reportedly sent to clerks and election officials in all Colorado counties, in an effort to deny the public’s right to examine voted ballots. This communication resulted from my Open Records request of several counties to examine 2008 and 2009 voted ballots. The SOS attempts to put the decision back to each clerk, which of course makes for confusing and inconsistent practice county to county. I have received a denial from Delta County while two other counties are scheduling appointments for me to examine ballots. Three other counties have asked for more time to do more research.
With primary elections in process and general elections in the fall, resolution and consistency need to be immediately addressed in favor of total transparency. For example, Michigan’s voters have the right to verify (http://www.ag.state.mi.us/opinion/datafiles/2010s/op10324.htm ) the election of their U.S. Senator, Governor or local county clerk. Why should Coloradoans have less right to verify the election of our representatives who will be serving side by side with their officials?
The SOS rationale is curious that ballot inspection causes them “serious concerns about the potential for adverse effect” on voter confidence!
From: State Election Division
Date: July 20, 2010 4:26:03 PM MDT
Subject: Open records requests for voted ballots
As we discussed on the conduct of elections call this morning, our office has received several questions regarding open records requests for voted ballots that have been received over the past few days. Although our office has previously provided guidance that voted ballots are not records subject to inspection under CORA and we have serious concerns about the potential for adverse effect on the confidence in elections and finality in the outcome, we are unable to identify an exception in Title 1 generally protecting ballots from public inspection.
Under the Colorado Open Records Act, it is the responsibility of the custodian of a record to decide whether it is subject to public inspection. Because county clerks are the custodian of ballots, we recommend you consult with your county attorney in determining how best to respond to requests to inspect ballots given that these records may be in storage and we are currently conducting the primary election. If you or your county attorney has identified some additional legal basis for denying access to these records, we would ask that you share the information with our office and other counties. If you allow inspection of the ballots, keep in mind that you cannot disclose any ballot with information that would identify the voter, or any other confidential voter information. This would include, for example, a provisional ballot in the affidavit envelope, or a rejected mail-in ballot in its envelope.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Strictly speaking, the answer lies in the rules for each locality. However, it is common for a valid IRV ballot to be judged effectively by one rule: there must be no overvote in the first ranking of each race. Let's take a look at some valid and invalid IRV ballots:
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
"Unlike Harvie Branscomb, who seems to have a real problem with facts and objectivity, the vast majority of Aspen voters understand what's going on with the Marks self- promotion tour.
For the record, Mark's election reform efforts are self-serving, anything but "heroic", selfish and clearly the rantings of a sore loser, in my opinion. Wrapping the Marks election reform
Tim Cooney throws some nasty punches but is wildly off the mark attempting to knock Marilyn Marks' election reforms. Tim's 90-word cluster bomb was cleverly buried in his letter responding to Elizabeth Milias on The Aspen Club (“Can't trust the know-it-alls,” Friday, May 28, The Aspen Times). (http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20100528/LETTER/100529828/1020&parentprofile=1061)
Marilyn Marks' election reform work is neither “self-interested,” nor born of “vanity.” Equally ill-informed anonymous Aspen Times bloggers have been bleating like annoyed lambs “why doesn't she just let it go?” Some officials claim Marks is still on a “political campaign” and imply that campaigning is bad for the public. Contrary to all of this complaining about criticism — civic-minded citizens will be thanking Marilyn for an extremely tough effort to confront real mistakes made by a few people currently holding power.
This litigation seeks to make public the ballot images from the IRV election in May 2009 in the Aspen Municipal election.
Marilyn Marks' comment: Although the City does not have a copy of the complaint, Mr. Springer, claims that the complaint has "no merit," -- presumably without reading it. He also claims that the there were "no violations of any election laws." If it is not a violation of election law to leave the keys on/in the ballot box, I can't imagine what would be a violation. That is one example of many--like failing to use certified software.
Interestingly he claims that it is the "most open, honest, well-run election" in Colorado. Surely many jurisdictions will take issue with that!
Writer: Curtis Wackerle Byline:Aspen Daily News Staff Writer
An investigation by the district attorney’s office into the city of Aspen’s May 2009 election that was set off when losing mayoral candidate Marilyn Marks filed a criminal complaint is nearing completion.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
“Voted ballots, which are not traceable to the individual voter, are public records subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act,” wrote the Attorney General of Michigan in a May 13, 2010, opinion. His decision shines a new and positive light on Marilyn Marks’ request to a local court for access to digital images of Aspen’s May 2009 ballots.
Michigan voter rights advocates, like Marilyn, sought access to voted ballots from recent elections for auditing purposes. Their Attorney General’s ruling reinforces a fundamental principle that ballots are public records because they are anonymous and must not be traceable to an individual. Michigan’s constitution says only “preserve the secrecy of the ballot.” Colorado’s constitution requires “secrecy in voting,” meaning privacy, and says “no ballots shall be marked in any way whereby the ballot can be identified as the ballot of the person casting it,” meaning anonymous. Colorado’s requirement of ballot anonymity is very specific.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
City Council and staff don't seem to mind pursuing their expensive defense against Marilyn Marks' effort to obtain reasonable transparency of election records. Ironically, they are now generally fighting against transparency promised prior to last May's election. The engagement of high profile Denver-based criminal defense counsel shows their intention to gear up. Will Aspen simply protect their many election irregularities with big-time lawyers or instead solve the underlying problems and make sure anonymous records become accessible? I am hoping for the latter.
There is transparency news from Michigan. Activists there were seeking actual paper ballots for audit purposes, while Marilyn only seeks indestructible electronic copies. Last week they received good news from their attorney general. He advised that Michigan's voted ballots are indeed public records and can be inspected and audited subject to open records request. The statement is posted at http://aspenelectionreview.blogspot.com/2010/05/text-of-michigan-attorney-generals.html
But in Aspen, Marilyn Marks has been confronted with aggressive obstacles to obtaining mere digital copies of similar records. Her transparency litigation will move to the Appeals Court if Judge Boyd refuses to reconsider, again with Aspen voters footing the bill for efforts
Friday, May 21, 2010
As an engineer and volunteer election official in Massachusetts, I became interested in Aspen's new municipal election system, which combines approval voting and instant runoff voting to create a unique system.
Using the published election data files and software, I have been able to reproduce the mayor and City Council race results. I am not aware of anyone in Aspen who has tallied those races, but I highly recommend that Aspen city officials try it.
However, reproducing the tally results from “ballot strings” does not mean I have verified the election. To verify an election one must look at the ballots; no less than full transparency will do. But currently Aspen taxpayers are funding an expensive battle to fight election transparency. Aspen, of all places.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
"Voted ballots evidence the electors' preferences, and ultimately support the election or defeat of candidates and the approval or disapproval of ballot proposals in an election. They are the primary source for election results. Therefore, voted ballots are "writings" that record meaningful content and constitute "public records" for purposes of the FOIA."
He then goes on to address common misunderstandings of "secret ballot":
"Importantly, the question you pose does not raise "secrecy of the ballot" concerns because, as described above, a ballot is no longer traceable to the elector who voted it once the stub with its unique serial number is removed and the ballot is placed in the tabulator. Once placed in the tabulator, the voter's ballot and the selections recorded upon it become anonymous."
The opinion is thorough, well written, and a great read for those who wish to better understand the issues of election transparency, even for those outside of Michigan.
This is yet another victory in the fight for election transparency. One state at a time people are realizing that the genius of the Australian ballot system lies in it's ability to simultaneously provide private voting and ballot transparency.
If Michigan citizens can look at their ballots? Minnesotans' theirs, Floridians theirs, why not Aspen?
If Longmont, Colorado citizens can be involved in post elections using real ballots why are Aspen's ballots secret?
If El Paso County (Colorado Springs) can have extensive citizen post election audits, why do Aspen's ballots have to be hidden away from all but the city officials?
See a full explanation from the Michigan AG's opinion, demonstrating that ballots are to be non-traceable to the voter. The same facts and logic should apply in Aspen.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich. Dept. of Attorney General Web Site - http://www.ag.state.mi.us)
STATE OF MICHIGAN
MIKE COX, ATTORNEY GENERAL
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT:
SECRETARY OF STATE:
Access to ballots voted at an election under the Freedom of Information Act
Monday, May 10, 2010
[what follows is an emailed letter by Harvie Branscomb to Aspen Election Commissioners- some typos in the original text have been corrected by Harvie 5/11/10]
Ward and Bob (and Kathryn when and if she sees this): 5/10/10
Both of you -independent members- of the EC already responded to my midnight email- thanks very much. I guess the pressure I have been under for the past week must be obvious in my mistake about the date of a requested extension. A week ago I took on an additional and unexpected responsibility to a great number of people where the schedule was out of my control.
If I could have spent the past week on a 'charrete' to prepare a submission to you, I might not be ready by now. Please recall that until the newspaper announcement of April 27, the public did not know of a format or deadline for submissions. My research, yet far from complete, has not been compiled to press the button at any moment in a certain “complaint” format that is worthy of a formalized review. Therefore I take exception to Ward’s assumption that a year is enough time to compile a complaint. The full year of experience learning about the election, and more importantly about the various responses to post election queries, has led to a huge body of knowledge, much of it worthy of some kind of comment or complaint.
Fortunately Marilyn Marks is aware of much of that knowledge and she is also quite qualified technically and intellectually and emotionally to present to you. I hope that she does, and I support her efforts in that regard. It is likely that she too would not have been able to meet the deadline without having had to organize her documents for her District Attorney complaint. The effort is hugely time consuming, as I hope you will appreciate. I want to present accurate, well-documented data that is easy to follow. That is likely a 40 to 50 hour project. To ask that it be completed in less than 2 weeks is asking a lot.
Unfortunately, and that would be an understatement, Marilyn is discredited by too many people for character failures that she does not have, and for having been a candidate in the election, which is no reason at all to discredit her. In fact it gives her every reason to be highly knowledgeable, and demonstrates that she is serious about elections and better government. Candidates should be encouraged to come forward with what they know. Why not?
Sunday, May 9, 2010
See above for Harvie Branscomb's complaint letter.
Marilyn Marks' complaint filing linked as follows:
The Aspen Election Commission met May 5 (the one year anniversary of the controversial 2009 Municipal Election) to hold its first hearing for complaints. The independent commissioners heard Millard Zimet's complaint regarding non-anonymous election processing.
The video recording of the proceedings may be reviewed at:
Marilyn Marks has proposed that the Election Commission conduct a Re-scanning, and Re-Tabulation audit procedure intended to provide some mitigation for the lack of pre-election and post election system testing.
That proposal is at http://www.glassballotbox.org/journal/2010/5/9/proposal-to-election-commission-for-re-scanningre-tabulation.html
Complaints are due to the Election Commission Monday, May 10. They will be posted here as they become available.
The City of Aspen announced that the District Attorney has opened an investigation into the May 2009 election. http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20100507/NEWS/100509873
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
May 4, 2009
Commissioner Ward Hauenstein, Aspen Independent Election Commissioner
Commissioner Bob Leatherman, Aspen Independent Election Commissioner
Dear Commissioners Hauenstein and Leatherman
I am writing in regard to tomorrow’s Election Commission meeting. Please permit me to first introduce myself. I have lived and worked in Colorado since 1966. For more than a decade, I have worked to improve Colorado’s election system. I am a Trustee and co-founder of Colorado Voter Group. I have served on multiple Boulder County Canvass Boards and voting equipment test boards. I have actively participated in Colorado’s equipment certification process, and contributed to the development of election rules, and have testified numerous times before state and local governmental bodies. I have testified in court as an expert witness on election system matters. I have closely monitored with much interest Aspen’s May 2009 election and its follow on activities. I have worked closely with Nick Koumoutseas of TrueBallot, the vendor whose system was used in the election. I have had a private demonstration of the TrueBallot system including a description of the database tables and macros, and the software used to capture, interpret and correct votes. I have also explored the software used to calculate the selection of the winners. In addition, I have analyzed the database and strings, as well as the first-pass vote interpretations published by Aspen. I have studied Title 31 and have in-depth knowledge of Title 1, the Colorado Election Rules, and Colorado Constitution Article VII Section 8.
My interest in the May 2009 election is due to the ranked choice methodology used for the election. The Colorado legislature has instructed the Secretary of State to prepare a report of Colorado IRV experience by February 2011. As of now, it appears that Aspen’s will be the only Colorado IRV election completed before the report deadline. I hope that by detailed analysis of this election we can make a significant contribution to the Secretary of State’s report to the legislature. We expect this report to significantly influence future legislation.
Clean government does not just happen. The public needs protection from potentially tyrannical governments. Therefore, protection must be independent of government. It must work to serve public, not government, interests. The Aspen Election Commission should strive to become such a protector. You have statutory authority, and your tools are transparency and trustworthy elections.
Transparency means that public information is public and affordable. Government has the power, but not the right, to withhold or destroy information that might undermine its power. The Commission can and should facilitate the public’s access to all non-private election-related information.
To: 'RDLNKP; 'Ward Hauenstein'; 'Kathryn Koch'
Cc: 'Jim True'; 'John Worcester'; 'Harvie Branscomb'; 'elizabeth.milias'Millard Zimet'; 'Mike LaBonte'; 'Al Kolwicz'; 'Don Davidson'
Subject: FW: May 2009 Election--balancing privacy and transparency
The philosophical debate shaping up for tomorrow is fascinating. A full public discussion will no doubt be informative.
In fact, despite how deeply involved I am in the subject, the debate between Harvie’s and Millard’s positions has caused me to go do more research and come to different conclusions of my own. Not that that is important, but it is the intelligent debate by knowledgeable people of differing viewpoints which I found so personally valuable. So, I hope that some of that debate can be heard tomorrow.
See my comments below directly commenting on Millard’s.
From: Millard Zimet Date: May 4, 2010 9:54:07 AM MDT
Cc: ward.hauenstein Kathryn.Koch Jim.True John.worcester
Subject: Re: May 2009 Election
Bob et al:
Sorry to bother you again, but there's another point I need to make sure you understand in advance of tomorrow's Election Commission meeting, namely: Marilyn Marks does not speak for me.
MRM>>I hope I did not say anything to imply that I was attempting to speak for him in my support his complaint. In fact, as you know, I submitted my own complaint on this point that is intended to stand alone.
Cc: ward.hauenstein Kathryn.Koch@ci.aspen.co.us, Jim.True@ci.aspen.co.us, John.firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Re: May 2009 Election
Bob et al:
Sorry to bother you again, but there's another point I need to make sure you understand in advance of tomorrow's Election Commission meeting, namely: Marilyn Marks does not speak for me.
The reason why I got involved in this election matter back in August was because I became worried that my vote was not secure. That is still my primary focus. I hope I have been able to show you that the votes of many voters are not secure.
Marilyn Marks and Harvie Branscomb are interested in election transparency. They are now concerned that my secret ballot issue will negatively impact their election transparency agenda. I told them (and the City) of this inevitable conflict back in August, but nobody seemed to care at that time.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
To: Kathryn.Koch; Ward Hauenstein Robert Leatherman
Hello Election Commissioners,
I have read the recent letter to you from Millard Zimet at http://www.glassballotbox.org/storage/Zimet4.29Complaint.pdf. As an outsider to Aspen I would like to point out that while the topic of ballot anonymity may be discussed relatively rarely, it is widely regarded as one of the founding principles of how we vote in modern times. Practices such as inspecting ballots for legal compliance and shuffling them are in general either codified or taken for granted, although some election officials may mistakenly depend too much on their optical scanners and ballot boxes to perform some degree of randomization. Adopting a strong protocol for maintaining ballot anonymity would not only be a good practice, indeed, Aspen voters like all other voters certainly must already expect that their ballots can not be traced back to them, not even by election workers. Otherwise who would vote?
Thursday, April 29, 2010
The complaint will be heard by the Election Commission on May 5 at 3:30 p.m. in a City meeting room.
The complaint update details how he determined Mayor Mick Ireland’s likely voting data from cast vote records improperly collected in order of poll book entries, and then publicly released by the city. (the ballots were not shuffled, nor were the ballot image files, before being scanned or released.)
Mayor Ireland declared Zimet’s complaint to be of “no substance,” and that the Commission has “nothing to act on.”
The meeting will surely be interesting. The legal advice will apparently be offered by the City Attorneys who helped design this system and did not require the randomizing of ballot records. Additionally they represent the elected officials.
His complaint update as of 4.29.10 is posted at:
The original and 1st update of the complaint are
Thursday, April 22, 2010
In February the City asked for applicants for the new Election Commission, but would not disclose the City’s view of what their duties or level of authority would be. It should be noted that this memo was written as a confidential document for City Council at the time that the former Election Commission was under fire by Jack Johnson and some Council members on trumped up charges, after the EC began to explore their duties and discuss the outstanding election irregularities.
Shortly after this memo was written, the Council declared the Election Commission to be retroactively terminated. I believe that the Council did not like the breadth of authority that the Election Commission held to review and control the process of elections in accordance with state and local law. They had to be dismissed so that the CC could avoid having them follow through on their interest in independent reviews and audits, and a clear definition of their roles.
(comment by Marilyn Marks)
Sent: Thursday, April 22, 2010 10:21 AM
To: Curtis Wackerle (Aspen Daily News reporter)
Cc: Marilyn R Marks; Al Kolwicz; Ward Hauenstein; Bob Leatherman; Jim True; John Worcester; Kathryn Koch; Harvie Branscomb
Subject: Re: May 8 deadline
(referenced article : http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/home/140270 )
I realized after reading your well written article that I might have misled you slightly. The lock the key was left in unlocks a small door on the ballot box that allows access to two buttons that if simultaneously pressed will activate the override function that causes the voting machine to accept any ballot with any number of errors on it. My research shows that use of this function can lead to misinterpreted ballots.
I'm not sure you understand that the "ballot box" is the stand that holds up the voting machine. The ballots fall from the voting machine into the box. There are several locks on the box/stand that are opened by the same keys as Kathryn Koch confirmed at the second election commission meeting. Two of the locks open doors that allow access to storage areas for voted ballots. I don't think your article is written in a manner that will confuse and I don't think it needs any correction. I am only explaining this to you in case someone objects on technical grounds. No doubt Kathryn Koch will correct me if I am wrong. It is odd that the Mayor brought up this canard again at the end of the Monday night CC/EC meeting.
I think you listed two of the most easy to understand (and to resolve) issues. That was appropriate. Your readership will relate to those and perhaps they will remember other similar problems to report and come forward. You might have noted that the EC would like to hear about positive qualities of the election too. I plan to offer a number of those in my comments.
But I also want to point out four other issues that simply overshadow the procedural problems on or around election day.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
The following press release (after the break) from the Colorado Secretary of State is misleading. It offers a false alternative- between "touch screens in polling centers" and "mail ballots fed through high speed scanners". Neither of these is technically necessary in a traditional polling place counted election. In fact both of these are the same two limited choices that would have been forced on voters as a result of the "Modernization Bill" that will not be introduced this year. The real choice (still available to many voters in Colorado) is between paper ballots counted in precinct polling places using reliable paper poll books, and on the other hand vote centers or service centers dependent on electronic pollbooks and functional networks and high tech centralized facilities for counting paper ballots requiring moving ballots to where they are counted (either from precincts or by mail).
The conversation about mail ballots has not exposed the deleterious effects it has on citizen oversight. Too often the discussion is framed in a promotional manner.
The Secretary of State did express a set of goals for the Best Practices and Vision Commission that features accuracy high on the list and does not mention convenience or cost. If he meant to place convenience and cost at a lower priority than accuracy of counting and eligibility then I compliment him on setting goals properly. Watch the Secretary of State's website for audio recordings from these meetings: www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/pressrel/PR20100319Members.htm
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Criticism of Caleb Kleppner Guest Editorial in Aspen Times Sept. 17, 2009: Aspen Election Transparency
An open records request was filed to learn about city cooperation in the writing of this op-ed. The result is found in the form of a pdf by clicking here . On the pdf you will find Marilyn Marks Sept. 17, 2009 criticism of the op-ed as well as an email from Caleb Kleppner to Aspen City Clerk Kathryn Koch offering to cooperate on writing the op-ed and also a submission of a draft to Kathryn Koch for edits or modifications.
[above is by Harvie Branscomb]
Special to The Aspen Times
Discussion of ballot text for possible future Aspen voting methods for November ballot question: Aspen Election
Sent: Friday, April 16, 2010 1:36 AM
To: 'Mick Ireland', Aspen City Council, Aspen Election Commission
Subject: deciding the method of voting
Friday, April 16, 2010
Aspen response to Marks' response to Aspen's motion for attorney's fees: Aspen Transparency Litigation
Here we see Aspen arguing that although it failed to follow one of the court rules it had some reason not to be aware of the rule. We then see the city argue that the Marks case is frivolous and vexatious- largely referring to the existing record in the case and claiming, again, that Marks' recent pleading, that shows the uncertainty of the accuracy of representation of the paper ballot by the TIFF image, "is again an effort to change the facts to avoid attorneys’ fees, to avoid the dismissal, or to challenge the election."
[above is opinion by Harvie Branscomb]
DEFENDANT’S MEMORANDUM BRIEF IN REPLY TO PLAINTIFF’S RESPONSE TO MOTION FOR ATTORNEY’S FEES AND PLAINTIFF’S REQUEST FOR HEARING
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Election Services & Solutions
3 Bethesda Metro Center
Bethesda, Maryland 20814
FAX (301) 656-3558
John L. Seibel
April 12, 2010
130 S. Galena St.
Aspen, CO 81611
Dear Ms. Koch:
I believed that we provided a certification of the May, 2009 Aspen City election at the time of the election when all of the election data was presented. However, in the event that certification was not provided, please accept as this letter as certification that the tabulation of the ballots in May, 2009 Aspen city election as presented on May 5, 2009 and subsequently amended to correct an insubstantial error in the final tabulation of the results in the Mayor's race, were fair and accurate.
John L. Seibel, President
City of Aspen &TrueBallot Inc. Misrepresentations and False Statements Concerning Aspen Election Transparency
[this posting contains opinion by both Caleb Kleppner and Marilyn Marks]
From: Marilyn R Marks
Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2010 2:59 PM
To: 'Ward Hauenstein'; Bob Leatherman.
Cc: 'Elizabeth Milias'; 'Harvie Branscomb'; 'Millard Zimet'
Subject: City Complicity in Misinformation campaign and request of new Election Commission
Bob and Ward,
I had to retrieve the attached [following] document for my litigation, and as I reread it, I thought that it was a good example, without too many technicalities, of the cultural issue I mentioned in my last email to you. See the guest editorial printed in the Aspen Times on September 17, which I have attached with my footnotes of the numerous misrepresentations.
This almost completely false editorial written by True Ballot executive, Caleb Kleppner, was written with the apparent approval and involvement of City officials. Kleppner delivered a draft for review to Kathryn Koch on September 2 for her approval.
The City staff knew or had reason to know that these statements are materially misleading, and did not attempt to stop them from being printed. The city’s vendor TBI knew these statements to be false as well.
Upon the publication of the editorial, I made my objections known to the City and to True Ballot. Harvie Branscomb wrote to TrueBallot asking for corrections as well.
Both organizations refused to publicly correct the clear misrepresentations, although they made no claims to us that their statements were correct as written.
This is the type of information battle we have had to attempt to combat. But only through the small efforts of letters to the editor. Note that this was published at the approximate time of the prior Election Commission being denied access to independent counsel. Given the kind of misrepresentations in this document, the need for independent perspective is surely quite clear.
The previous election Commission is criticized for not seeking an additional written view of their duties from City staff who, by this time had shown their complicity with the efforts to misinform and mislead. Also, there was an obvious and inherent conflict of interest by city attorneys wrote and opined on the election procedures and acted as one of the judges for certifying the election. It would have been improper for the EC to ask clearly conflicted attorneys to opine on the EC roles and responsibilities, given the state of the election irregularities.
I am requesting that you review this document with staff and ask that a correcting published document be written and submitted to the Aspen Times. To leave such false information and misrepresentations in the public record is disingenuous and self-serving at best. It is most certainly irresponsible.
I see it as part of the duty of the election commission to clear up misinformation from the past and help the information flow to the public.
Thank you for your service.
(Caleb Kleppner submitted a draft of this editorial to Kathryn Koch on September 2 for approval prior to publication)
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The original pdf of the filing is available by clicking here.
The filing argues that 1) Colorado law does not allow the presumption that ballots cease to be anonymous once they are voted; 2) the TIFF files are not “ballots,” and they should not be treated as “ballots” for purposes of municipal statutes; 3) contests are not the only circumstance in which municipal statute allows ballots to be removed from the ballot box; 4) “substantial compliance” is the appropriate standard for the Defendant to observe in performing her duties under Title 31, and allowing an open records law inspection of the TIFF files is consistent with substantial compliance; and 5) the Court’s review of the legislative history of the municipal law is particularly appropriate in view of the Court’s decision to interpret the term, “ballots,” to include the TIFF files.
Link to previous filings in the Marks v. Koch Aspen Election Transparency Litigation:
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
The meeting was very calm and reasonable and productive. The Commission decided to take in written complaints/compliments/suggestions by May 8 and looks like it will have a public brainstorming session sometime after that. The Commission primarily discussed how it would interface with the public, how it might help avoid any retribution for coming forward with complaints, and whether or not it would weigh in on the method of IRV voting or the choice of voting methods. Apparently one conclusion was to wait for a determination of what voting system would be used in the next election before further discussing IRV related details, but in the mean time to ask citizens to come forward with comments.
[Here are comments on the meeting by Elizabeth Milias, followed by an email sent by Harvie Branscomb to the Commission following the meeting.]
I found the following to be interesting points made at yesterday's meeting of Aspen's Election Commission:
• The "confidential memo" that outlines the EC's roles and responsibilities (as prepared by City Attorney John Worcester) remains confidential and privileged. The EC has received a copy, but its contents are not yet available to the public. It is up to Council to release this document to the public.
• The EC has determined that its individual members can have private meetings with citizens who wish to discuss election issues.
• The EC recognizes that there exists the potential for reprisals against citizens who bring forth election complaints and challenges, but the commission will not be part of this behavior.
• Citizens are welcome to write, call, present to, and lobby EC members regarding election issues, and despite Marilyn Marks being deemed "corrupt" for doing just this following the May 2009 election, this is now ok.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
UNDERSTANDING WHAT “SECRET BALLOT” MEANS IN COLORADO
THE INTERSECTION OF PRIVACY (SECRECY IN VOTING) AND ANONYMOUS BALLOTS
(the character of the process of voting interacts with the character of the produced record -these combine to produce election integrity while allowing full records transparency)
SECRET DOES NOT EQUAL ANONYMITY!
ANONYMOUS BALLOT (NO VOTER IDENTITY)
PRIVACY (SECRECY IN VOTING)
Not Anonymous but Private
Example: Ballot with a serial number that can be tied to the poll book number. Ballot is voted in private (no one watching). Someone with access to poll book and ballot can learn how the voter votes. Was legal in Colorado until 1946, now illegal.
Ex: Ballot marked by voter to identify own ballot (illegal)
Anonymous and Private
Example: A ballot marked in private. No voluntary or involuntary identifying marks.
(A proper and legal ballot.)
Ballot may be viewed by the public; images of ballots may be given to the public without sacrificing the privacy of the vote. Allows full public verifiability of an election.
Not Anonymous and Not Private
Ex: Ballot with a serial number tied to the pollbook marked within view of a poll worker. (illegal)
Ex: Ballot purposely marked with voter’s initials while candidate looks on. (illegal)
Anonymous but Not Private
Ex. Ballot with no identifying marks, but poll worker watches the voter marking his ballot. (illegal)
Ex: Voting in clerk’s office with no privacy booth, where other voters or candidates can watch. (illegal)
Download the pdf of the filing by clicking here, or read it below the break and below the comments.
Submitted comments by Mike LaBonte, a Massachusetts citizen election official, Al Kolwicz of Colorado Voter Group, and Harvie Branscomb (editor of this blog).
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
--response received from Bob Leatherman, Commissioner--
Your email is acknowledged and has been read. Thank you for taking the time to put it together. Leatherman
Kathryn, Bob and Ward,
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Should the city of Aspen seek to recoup more than $50,000 from Marilyn Marks after her suit against the city was thrown out?
Above are the poll results as of April 3 2010. The live poll can be found at this link: http://www.aspendailynews.com/poll/should-city-aspen-se
Friday, April 2, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
to aspenpost.net blogger/editor Michael Conniff (a.k.a. the Con-Man)
Michael your penchant for going negative astounds and disappoints me. I left town the day after getting you and Marilyn together for a pleasant and amiable chat and before I managed to return from a very important meeting on election auditing and citizen activism in DC, you are fighting her again. Did she start this recent fight? I don't think so. All she did is respond to your initial faint praise which she and I both recognized as the most you could possibly do to be nice to her. And we were both thankful for your effort.
I appreciate that you appreciate her work on election reform in which you say she is helping me. I need all the help I can get but Marilyn is so well suited to pursuing election reforms I can only say I am providing her some minor help with my full time volunteer effort. There was no lack of transparency of the election commission. NONE. ZIP. NADA. In fact there was plenty of transparency- thousands of pages of it. I do not believe you read all of THOSE pages. (continued)
Friday, March 26, 2010
City looks to hit Marks with $70K legal billby Curtis Wackerle, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer
In a motion filed Thursday in Pitkin County District Court, the city said that attorney John Worcester spent 129 hours on the case, while special counsel Jim True spent 45 hours on the case. Although Worcester and True are both on salary, another Aspen attorney, Maria Morrow, wrote in an affidavit that attorneys of Worcester and True’s “skill and experience” could reasonably bill out at the rate of $385 “in this area for a claim of this nature.” This brings the total attorneys’ fees to $67,047.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Aspen to voters, in a nutshell: Trust us. Of course we will do no wrong. We tried a really cool, completely new, election system. We promised transparency but didn’t fully give it to you, sorry. We gave you only enough to give you cause for concern, but not enough for confidence. If you are concerned, though, don’t come to us. We won’t respond positively to you, but you will hear jokes about how much of our time you are wasting. We hope you like jokes. Don’t go to the secretary of state, either. They don’t have jurisdiction over our election. We do. If you still have concerns don’t go to the Election Commission. Even if they listen to you, we can and will make them disappear. Don’t go to the court system either, because if you do we will do everything we can to dismiss your case; we will try to prevent you from getting the information you need; we will see if we can demonize you by making claims about your motives in the legal briefs; we will sue you afterward to punish you for trying. It will cost you a bundle to even try to get a day in court, and we will do our best to make sure you fail and no one else like you ever asks again.
- ▼ Jul (2)
- ► Jun (6)
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- ► Mar (10)