Manipulative process taints a ballot bill

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May 18, 2012

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
734 South 7th Street
Grand Junction, CO 81501

Dear Editors:

  Today’s editorial – “Manipulative process taints a ballot bill” – is itself “tainted” by the inaccuracy and illogic of the Sentinel’s analysis of the issues underlying SB 155.

  First, readers should properly ask themselves:  if SB 155 “makes sense”, why wasn’t it publicly considered in legislative committees and openly debated on the floor, rather than tacked onto an unrelated bill at the last minute? 

  Second, while the Sentinel properly insists that “no one should be able to see voted ballots – whether mail-in or cast at early voting places – before Election Day”, such is not currently the case.  Rather, at least in Mesa County, early voted and mail-in ballots are routinely “seen” by partisan elections officials “before Election Day”.

  Third, as the Colorado Court of Appeals (not “a Pitkin County judge”) recently ruled (with – not “with no”—restrictions), anonymous (only) voted ballots have always been public records subject to the Colorado Open Records Act (“CORA”), precisely because transparency is essential to insuring election integrity before results are certified.

  Fourth, it is the exception – not the rule – when “voted ballots are being used by clerks to certify the election and could be part of an official recount”.  Indeed, there is no evidence that any clerks’ post-election duties have ever been disrupted by citizens’ CORA requests – precisely because CORA already affords adequate protections for the clerks in such exceptional circumstances.

  Fifth, the Sentinel’s editorial entirely ignored the underlying reason why “county clerks originally wanted . . . to declare all voted ballots exempt from” CORA – because those clerks’ locally discretionary procedures allow a voter’s identity to be “linked” to his/her ballot, thereby unconstitutionally violating the principle of a “secret ballot”.   

  Therefore, it makes “no sense” to “blackout” public access to anonymous voted ballots while tolerating continued linkage of voted paper ballots with voters’ identities.

                Bill Hugenberg
                543 Rim Drive
                Grand Junction, CO 81507
Word Count = 300           257-1998

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