Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Does the Secretary of State represent the people?

Ginette Dennis
Colorado Secretary of State
1700 Broadway
Denver, CO 80290
BY FAX: (303) 869-4861

October 9, 2005

Dear Ms. Dennis:

Since you are new to the office of Secretary of State, we assume that you are not aware of the history of improper, strained relations between the Elections Division and members of the public.

Colorado’s Elections Division is squandering a tremendous opportunity to earn confidence in our election system. The division has blocked true public participation in the formulation of election policies and procedures and the protection of elections from fraud, error and incompetence. It rejects the assistance offered by competent professionals, and consistently hides from public purview the election system’s deficiencies and problems.

The division is out of control, and it is failing to deliver trustworthy elections. The division operates without the benefit of accountability and transparency. It insulates itself from public and professional oversight and the law. It has been permitted to operate unilaterally, in secret, and to disregard public inquiry and election complaints. As operated, the division exists to serve the interests of election officials and equipment suppliers, rather than the public interest.

Worse, no independent body reviews election division dictates, and there is no way for the public to assert its rights.

We recognize that you aren’t accountable for the things that have happened in the past. However, we call to your attention some things that are happening now, on your watch.
  • Non-secret ballots. The Elections Division has authorized Boulder County to use non-secret ballots. ACTION: Reinforce anonymous ballot protections in election statutes and rules.
  • Non-existent accountability and transparency. The elections division is operating without benefit of independent scrutiny. Problems are hidden; formal objections to division dictates are consistently rejected by the division; and there is no accountability. ACTION: Endorse formation of a truly independent Elections Accountability Board to represent the interests of the public rather than the interests of election officials.
  • Harmful election rules. Election rules are being developed in a non-professional, hodgepodge manner, and are inadequate to serve the need. ACTION: Immediately rescind the October 3, emergency Rule-45, before it is used. Procure an independent and competent technical review of the statutes and rules. Adopt a new rulemaking model based on true public participation (not “public comment”).
  • Incoherent election system. Colorado does not have a professionally developed, publicly endorsed election system. It has no coherent set of requirements and no architectural framework. Election statutes, rules, and local procedures are incomplete, imprecise, ambiguous, and conflicting, resulting in the unequal treatment of voters under the law. ACTION: Create a plan for the comprehensive professional make-over of the entire election system. Gain endorsement by the legislature and the public.
  • Inadequate Voting Equipment RFP. The RFP is not precise, not quantified, and does not take reasonable steps to ensure that elections will be secure, accurate, verifiable and transparent. It is not an adequate statement of Colorado’s election system requirements, and does not incorporate the recommendations of experienced, knowledgeable professionals who have offered their expertise. ACTION: Immediately recall the RFP. Re-do the RFP based on the revised requirements and architecture.
  • Untrustworthy voter registration system. The statewide voter registration system is being developed in the dark. We do not trust that there are adequate provisions for security, accuracy, verifiability and transparency. The vendor is receiving harsh criticism in other states, and reports indicate that Colorado is now finding problems. ACTION: Avoid the “Colorado benefits management system” nightmare; take a time-out. Before the registration system is deployed, conduct an extensive and detailed public discussion. Listen and respond to the concerns of Colorado professionals. Ensure a two-way discussion that affords adequate opportunity for the public to ask questions, resolve differences, and get commitments for solutions.
You have been given the incredible opportunity to reform the elections division, and restore confidence to those Coloradoans who care about trustworthy elections.

Until it is verified that each election is secure, accurate, verifiable and transparent, there should be no public trust of election results.

We appeal to you to intercede in behalf of the people. If you choose to be the people’s representative, we will do all that we can to help you.

Al Kolwicz

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

CAMBER is a dedicated group of volunteers who are working to ensure that every voter gets to vote once, every vote is counted once, and that every ballot is secure and anonymous.