|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.
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
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- ▼ Apr (19)