TO THE PRESS:
Yesterday we sent you a word document and a note alerting you to the fact that Boulder County is suppressing Sunshine.
Later, we received the following e-mail from the county.
Today, we are informed, in an article published in the Daily Camera that Boulder County voters are being disenfranchised because they are not getting their mail ballots http://www.dailycamera.com/bdc/county_news/article/0,1713,BDC_2423_4187316,00.html
There are at least four BIG stories here:
1. CAMBER anticipated the problems with mail ballots. They published an extensive analysis of the 2001 mail ballot election which documented the problems that are inherent to the voting method. The county and the state know about these problems and continue to force this insecure, inaccurate, and unwanted method of voting upon the voters. Officials have refused to address the problems identified in the 2001 report.
2. Since October 2nd this year, CAMBER has attempted to get copies of the records and files that would enable CAMBER to detect problems with the ballots and mailing. The county has erected a series of concentric fences to block and deny CAMBER's legitimate Open Records Request. The most recent illustration of their blocking and stalling is the response from the county pasted below. The letter to which the county is responding is posted at:
http://coloradovoter.blogspot.com/2005/10/boulder-county-refuses-open-records.html As you can see, the county is saying that they will not provide the data in time to use it for the current election. This stinks.
3. The problem with mail ballots is not unique to Boulder County. Arapahoe County has sent two ballots to each voter in at least four precincts. There is increasing chatter about voters who have not received their ballot, and nobody knows how many voted ballots do not make it to the clerk on time -- if ever. One cannot rely on election results that are so compromised.
4. When offered the opportunity to conduct elections by mandatory mail ballot, 60 percent of Boulder County voters said NO. Amendment 28 was soundly defeated in 2001. Boulder county Commissioners voted to conduct the current election as a mail ballot only election BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED THAT A MAIL BALLOT ELECTION WOULD HELP PASS REF C. It isn't right that officials should use the method of voting as a tactic to raise taxes and eliminate term limits.
Election officials have assumed the role of masters rather than the role of public servants. This must be corrected immediately.
Check this out, and please inform your readers what is going on.
CAMBER - Citizens for Accurate Mail Ballot Election Results
2867 Tincup Circle
Boulder, CO 80305
From: Bailey, Shelley [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2005 2:51 PM
Cc: Liss, Josh
Mr. Al Kolwicz
Original via e-mail
I am in receipt of your letter dated October 20 in which you made serious accusations regarding the County's intentions with regard to our response to your October 6, 2005 Open Records Request, and allegations that the response was inadequate.
I am now in the process of reviewing your October 20 letter with respect to your reiteration and clarification of your October 6 Open Records Request. After my review of those items, I will respond as follows:
1) To the extent your October 20 letter provides clarification or information that allows me to release additional documents to you, I will inform you of the situation and schedule a time for you to inspect the documentation; and
2) To the extent my answer to any given item remains the same, I will state that fact.
In addition to discussions about your October 6, Open Records request, you also made new Open Records requests in your October 20 letter. Our office will not be able to respond to the new requests until after the election. The Clerk has adopted a rule that allows her office, under certain circumstances to delay responding to Open Records Requests. (Please let me know if you would like me to fax this document to you, in which case I will need a fax number, or if you would like for me to mail it to you.) The authority for adopting this rule is as follows:
1) C.R.S. § 24-72-203(1)(a) states, "All public records shall be open for inspection by any person at reasonable times, ... but the official custodian of any public records may make such rules with reference to the inspection of such records as are reasonably necessary for the protection of such records and the prevention of unnecessary interference with the regular discharge of the duties of the custodian or the custodian's office."
Due to the fast approaching election day and the fact that the Clerk's office is devoting all of its resources to meet this impending deadline, the Clerk has determined that it is reasonably necessary for the prevention of unnecessary interference with the regular discharge of the duties of the Clerk's office to delay responding to any Open Records requests (which meet the defined criteria) from October 17, 2005, until after the election. See also, Citizens Progressive Alliance v. Southwestern Water Conservation Dist., App.2004, 97 P.3d 308. (Colo. App 2004)
2. Pursuant to C.R.S. 24-72-203(3)(b)(III) a custodian may have additional time to respond to an Open Records Request when " [a] request involves such a large volume of records that the custodian cannot reasonably prepare or gather the records within the three day period without substantially interfering with the custodian's obligations to perform his or her other public service responsibilities" or, if, "[a] broadly stated request is made that encompass all or substantially all of a large category of records and the agency is unable to prepare or gather the records . . . because (A) The agency needs to devote all or substantially all of its resources to meeting an impending deadline or period of peak demand that is either unique or not predicted to recur more frequently than once a month." C.R.S. 24-72-203(3)(b)
3. Finally, Citizens Progressive Alliance v. Southwestern Water Conservation Dist., App.2004, 97 P.3d 308 (Colo. App 2004)t, allows for situations under which an agency may not be able to respond within the additional seven day extension provided by statute. "A records custodian cannot be sanctioned for failure to comply with the time limits in 24-72-203(3)(b) in situations where . . . compliance with a request within those time limits is a physical impossibility." In this case, the Clerk's office is devoting its entire staff to fulfilling its statutory obligations to meet the requirements of the upcoming election. Your additional requests involve voluminous documents and it is not possible for the Clerk's office to fulfill your request and continue to perform its statutorily mandated duties for the upcoming election.
Therefore, as stated above, I will respond to your October 20 letter regarding your previous requests as soon as possible. With regard to your additional requests, pursuant to the Clerk's rule, the Clerk's office will respond to your requests within 20 days after the election. However, I will also make every effort to provide a response to you sooner than the above stated deadlines, if at all possible. In order to respond to your additional requests, as set forth herein, I will need your request on the County's official Open Records Request Form. That document has been sent to you previously on several occasions. If you would like another copy sent to you, please let me know by e-mail response.
Shelley Stratton Bailey
Assistant County Attorney