Votes should be secret, Aspen says in appeal

The Aspen City Council voted Tuesday to appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court a lower court’s ruling that election ballots are public records.

Last week, a three-judge panel of the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that who Coloradans cast their votes for is secret under the Colorado Constitution, but the ballots themselves aren’t. As a result, the court said actual ballots can be released to the public as long as they don’t identify individual voters.

Regardless, the city is using the same argument most county clerks have cited, that ballots are secret.

“This case is not about election transparency,” Aspen City Attorney John Worcester said in a statement. “This case involves the sanctity of the secret ballot. The city believes the Court of Appeals was in error when it held that the Colorado Constitution does not protect the secrecy of ballots.”

The case was filed in 2009 by Aspen mayoral candidate Marilyn Marks when the city denied her Colorado Open Records Act request to get access to those ballots after she lost the race.

Since then, Marks has filed similar open-records requests elsewhere in the state, including Mesa County. She has been denied each time. Marks has a similar lawsuit pending against Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner and Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson.


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