-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.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

to aspenpost.net blogger/editor Michael Conniff (a.k.a. the Con-Man)

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 profit from citizen activist temporary loss in court

Another perspective on this news: Aspen decides to charge $385/hr for their salaried lawyers' time.  This would, if the court agrees, net Aspen a nice profit on their effort to prevent access to public records and deposition of the election contractor by their citizens.  (opinion by Harvie Branscomb)


City looks to hit Marks with $70K legal bill

by Curtis Wackerle, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

The city of Aspen is seeking $70,850 from Marilyn Marks to recoup attorneys’ fees and other expenses related to her lawsuit seeking digital copies of ballots from last May’s election.

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

Punitive process: Aspen to voters, in a nutshell (letter by Harvie Branscomb)

Punitive process


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.

Harvie Branscomb
El Jebel

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Marks v. Koch: plaintiff files for reconsideration: Aspen Transparency Litigation- March 24, 2010

Here is a link to the previous filings in the case: http://aspenelectionreview.blogspot.com/2010/03/judge-dismisses-marks-v-koch-case-aspen.html

PURSUANT TO C.R.C.P. 59(a)(4)

The Plaintiff, Marilyn Marks, by and through her undersigned counsel, respectfully moves the Court pursuant to C.R.C.P. 59(a)(4), to reconsider its Order on Pending Motions entered on March 10, 2010, and to amend the judgment to vacate the Court’s dismissal of the Complaint and to state instead that the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss is denied.

As grounds for this Motion, the Plaintiff states:

1. Pursuant to C.R.C.P. 121(c) § 1-15(8), counsel for Plaintiff hereby certifies that he has in good faith conferred with counsel for the Defendant about this Motion prior to filing it, and he is authorized to notify the Court that the Defendant opposes the relief sought herein.

2. On March 10, 2010, the Court entered its Order on Pending Motions, which granted the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss pursuant to C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

3. The Order on Pending Motions held that the Plaintiff’s Complaint was inadequate under C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5) because a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) inspection of 2,544 digital photographs of ballots (TIFF files) would be contrary to state law and that the law therefore offers the Plaintiff no relief under the facts alleged in the Complaint. See Order ¶ 13.

Marks v. Koch: last ten days: City brings out big stick: Aspen Transparency Litigation

Just the last ten days of media coverage related to the Aspen Election Review:  breaking news, Aspen brings out the big stick.  Harvie Branscomb
Mar. 13, 2010:  Guest opinion: A blow to election transparency (Guest opinion by Marilyn Marks)

Mar. 13, 2010: Bravo, Marilyn (letter by Harvie Branscomb)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Media Coverage of Marks v. Koch Dismissal Aspen Election Transparency

Links to other media coverage of this topic are here:
2010: View
2009: View
Below the break are recent articles (since March 11 2010) on the Aspen election review and litigation topics

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bullet Voting in Aspen's IRV Election - Memo by Millard Zimet

To:       Aspen City Council
From:   Millard Zimet
Re:       Bullet Voting in the May 2009 Election
Date:   March 15, 2010

The purpose of this memo is to observe the actual voting data generated by Aspen’s May 2009 Mayoral and City Council IRV elections with regards to bullet voting, and to observe whether bullet voting impacted the outcomes of those elections.  This memo is expressly not to be construed as an attack upon any person, elected official, candidate, government official or entity, political party, or political persuasion.

The data in this memo is derived from the strings, which I have previously sent to you in Excel format.  If you want to replicate the data contained in this memo, please take those strings and use the “filter” function in Excel to sort the data.
[continues below the break]

Friday, March 12, 2010

Letter to Aspen City Council regarding Dismissal of Marks v. Koch and attached letter to editor

The printed version of the March 12 2010 letter to the editor of the Aspen Daily News by Harvie Branscomb is available on line here:  http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/letter-editor/139658

It was re-titled "Ballots brouhaha" by the paper.

Here below the break is an extended cover letter to the Aspen City Council containing a copy of the letter as submitted:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Commentary on Dismissal of Marks v. Koch - Aspen Election Transparency

Here is an original opinion piece written by Harvie Branscomb on March 10, 2010. A linked html version of the Court ruling is found here: http://aspenelectionreview.blogspot.com/2010/03/judge-dismisses-marks-v-koch-case-aspen.html

On Wednesday District Court Judge Boyd decided, months into the process of litigation, to dismiss a case brought against the Aspen City Clerk to obtain public access to anonymous digital ballot images from a May 5 first-time in Colorado Instant Runoff Voting municipal election. The dismissal comes two days before an important deposition of the election contractor would have explained the election process on public record and a mere two weeks before the planned trial date.
(continued below the break:)

Judge Dismisses Marks v. Koch case - Aspen Transparency Suit

The following is the order made March 10 2010 by the District Court dismissing the Marks v. Koch case and making the planned deposition of TrueBallot Inc on March 12 moot as well as vacating the hearing set for March 22 and 23 for which extensive plans for arguing the merits of the case had been made.

Link to the rest of the coverage of this case is here: 

The link to the original document (transferred by OCR into search and screen-friendly text below the break): Order on Pending Mot.pdf