Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Violation of Colorado Constitution -- voter privacy

Citizens for Accurate Mail Ballot Election Results
2867 Tincup Circle
Boulder, CO 80305

September 20, 2005

Gigi Dennis BY FAX 303 869 4860
Colorado Secretary of State
1700 Broadway
Denver, CO 80290

URGENT: Violation of Colorado Constitution – Article VII, Section 8.

Dear Ms. Dennis:

Welcome to your new position as Colorado Secretary of State. We wish you the very best, and we look forward to working with you in behalf of the voters of Colorado. Understanding that you are very busy, we’ll get right to the point.

Boulder County is planning to violate the Colorado Constitution during the November 2005 election. You have the authority and duty to prevent this. We ask you to enforce Article VII, section 8 of the Colorado Constitution.

You have been asked to approve Boulder County’s draft Mail Ballot Election Plan, dated September, 7, 2005, which discloses that paper ballots will be required to be used, and that each ballot is to be permanently marked in a way whereby the ballot can be identified as the ballot of the person casting it – page 9, paragraph-O.

This is a violation Article VII, section 8 of the Colorado Constitution which says, “All elections by the people shall be by ballot, and in case paper ballots are required to be used, no ballots shall be marked in any way whereby the ballot can be identified as the ballot of the person casting it.”

We ask that you disapprove Boulder County’s plan to so violate the Colorado Constitution.

We support the use of paper ballots. We object to the use of ballots containing non-removable unique identifiers such as printed serial numbers or identifiers encoded as bar-codes. Non-removable serial numbers/bar-codes are not legal. They can be used to facilitate vote selling, voter intimidation, and privacy invasion. The serial number/bar-code enables the government, an insider, an outsider, or the voter to identify a ballot as the ballot of a particular voter.

Boulder County’s expressed intention is to use the serial number/bar-code for ballot control, and not to associate voters and ballots. They do not express bad intentions. However, once the data exists, others may make the association between ballots and voters.

Boulder County has several options available to it that do not require use of a non-removable serial number/bar-code. One of these options would be to use removable serial numbers/bar-codes. Unique identifiers would be recorded on removable ballot stubs. The stub containing the serial number/bar-code would be removed before the ballot is cast by the voter. The stubs would be retained for use in ballot auditing in conjunction with a poll book that lists which ballot(s) were issued to each voter. This option would comply with the Colorado Constitution and with Colorado’s Election Laws and Rules.

Boulder County is on record as opposing ballot stubs because of the possibility that a procedural error might result in a ballot being cast with the ballot stub still attached – thereby associating the voter and their ballot. This is a fallacious argument for at least two reasons: (1) the November election is a mail ballot election and all stubs would be removed by election workers, and (2) the computer file containing the scanned ballot images would not contain the image of the original serial number/bar-code.

The Colorado Constitution is clear. “… no ballots shall be marked in any way whereby the ballot can be identified as the ballot of the person casting it.” Once cast, the ballot must be absolutely anonymous and indistinguishable from any other ballot of the same style from the same precinct.

A unique serial number printed or bar-coded on a ballot and not removed before the ballot is cast is a mark that can be used to “identify the ballot as the ballot of a person casting it” and consequently violates Article VII section 8.

We ask that you fulfill your duty and exercise your authority to prevent Boulder County from violating the Colorado Constitution.

Al Kolwicz
Executive Director

cc: John W. Suthers, Colorado Attorney General
Linda Salas, Boulder County Clerk & Recorder
Dean Schooler, Lead Plaintiff, Schooler v. Salas, Case# 2004CV1281
Hillary Hall, Chair, Boulder County Democrats
Marty Neilson, Chair, Boulder County Republicans