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October 25, 2010
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Election is for citizens, not government

Dear Editor:

Recent polls estimate the governor's contest has narrowed to a mere four points between Hickenlooper and Tancredo. Imagine local voters' reaction if Tancredo narrowly defeats Hickenlooper. Expect requests for recounts and audits. The Denver Post and possibly our local papers would be anxious to undertake an independent analysis of any narrow victory margin just as the New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and their partners performed with the Florida Bush/Gore ballots.

Currently, local and state officials would deny such media requests claiming that Colorado ballots are more "secret" than Florida's and may not undergo similar analysis. If Bush/Gore ballots were openly studied in Florida, and Franken/Coleman recount ballots posted on the Minneapolis Herald Tribune web page, why should Colorado officials be able to hide the Hickenlooper/Tancredo ballots? Would Coloradans stomach the notion that a Tancredo victory might go uninvestigated because Colorado election officials claim stewardship of "secrets" on our ballots? What "secrets" are they withholding? Our ballots are anonymous, and inherently not secret.

Aspen and Colorado election officials claim their goal is to protect your "secret ballots," while actually playing to emotional fears about privacy. Colorado ballots are just as anonymous as the Florida and Minnesota ballots. But incredibly, Colorado Secretary of State Buescher recently denounced any such open reviews of Colorado elections. Election integrity activists are appalled at the idea of hiding any secrets of election process whether innocent or ugly. Minnesota, Michigan, California, and Florida officials are not afraid of what the press will find when their ballots are examined. Why do Colorado officials defy such requests?

A year ago, I sued the city of Aspen to attempt to protect our rights as citizens to verify our elections, just as citizens of other states can do. The state district court in Pitkin County refused to hear the case and went even further to effectively prohibit normal recounts in local elections, and slammed shut Aspen's black ballot box preventing public review of its contents. The local press at first feebly voiced support for transparency, then failed to challenge the city on their continued resistance.

I have just filed my appeal of that lower court dismissal, expecting to reaffirm that Colorado's ballots are open for public verification. Aspen's City Council has voted to try to extract $70,000 in penalties from me for having the audacity not to cave in to their iron fisted response to citizen activism.

Regardless of such punitive backlash, we should not allow our government to block election transparency and verifiability. Elections belong to us, not the government. The government ought not obtain nor withhold "secrets" about our elections. Please support this financially burdensome effort to bring Colorado's elections into the sunshine. Your contribution is tax deductible. See www.GlassBallotBox.org for details.

Go to the polls and vote. Notice that your ballot is anonymous. Vote for candidates who honor the value of anonymous ballots and the rights of citizens to verify and count them.

Marilyn Marks

Aspen


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The Aspen Times Updated Oct 25, 2010 10:01PM Published Oct 25, 2010 10:00PM Copyright 2010 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.