Monday, November 15, 2010

Poll watcher controversy in Pitkin County

Election reform crusader Marilyn Marks of Aspen stirred a statewide controversy during this election cycle with a fight over the rights of poll watchers.

Marks wanted to get closer to election judges and ballot-counting machines than the 6 feet that Pitkin County and state government officials believe is allowed by law.

“Marilyn Marks felt as a watcher she had a right to stand over the election judges and watch the count,” said Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill. That's not allowed, in part to limit disruptions to the election judges as they try to do their jobs, she said.

Marks said she wanted closer access as an observer to make sure ballots were being counted properly.

Marks said she isn't challenging the 6-foot rule at polling places. It is clear that poll watchers must stay 6 feet away from voters so there is no chance of intimidation, she said. But she doesn't believe state law applies the 6-foot rule to poll watchers' observation of the processing of ballots by election judges.

Vos Caudill disputed Marks' claim and consulted with the Colorado Secretary of State. The secretary referred the matter to the Colorado Attorney General's Office. An attorney there on Oct. 20 advised the secretary of state as well as interested county clerks that the 6-foot rule applied to the processing of ballots as well as voting at polls.     More -

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