Trust, but verify — County Clerks Association, please take note

Dear Editor,

The Colorado County Clerks Association wants elections to be trusted but not publicly verified.

Exploiting a controversy surrounding Saguache County election records, the Association argued its case in a March 25 Denver Post guest editorial.

Disturbingly, most of the Association’s arguments are false and misleading — see “Protect the integrity of voters’ ballots.”

The Association asserts that Secretary of State Scott Gessler has proposed an “unprecedented … review of ballots.” This is not true. The Secretary carried out a similar review after the November 2003 election in Garfield County. And in the August 2010 election integrity advocates physically inspected and obtained photocopies of El Paso County election records (including ballots).

The Association repeatedly, and falsely, asserts that ballots are “private.” This assertion has no basis in law or in logic. Voters privately mark their ballots but once cast the ballots are anonymous and public.

There must be no way for anybody, including government officials and the voter themselves, to prove who cast which ballot.

Once cast, the anonymous ballots are required to be publicly, not privately, interpreted and counted to determine the election results.

The clerk’s Association claims that ballots are “sacred.” What does this even mean?

The Association asserts that ballots are “secretly cast.” That is false and the opposite of what the law requires. If ballots were secretly cast, there would be no way to prevent ineligible ballots.

The Association falsely asserts that Mr. Gessler would allow “cast ballots” to be transported anywhere. What has been discussed is that Saguache election officials provide suitable space for a team to carefully and openly inspect the election records.

Surely the clerks know that record custodians are required to facilitate public inspection of public records and to provide copies of these records?

Finally, the Association asserts that it is Colorado’s official keeper of election integrity. In fact, nothing can be further from the truth.

The Colorado County Clerks Association is a secret private group that circumvents Colorado’s Sunshine Laws, uses paid lobbyists, refuses public observers at their meetings, may be diverting public resources to their own needs, and develops government policy behind closed doors with no opportunity for public debate.

Mr. Gessler appears to be standing up for the rights of the public to verify public elections. If so, we applaud his efforts.

Al Kolwicz
Colorado Voter Group

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