Did Democrat County Clerks in Colorado Commit Vote-Count Abuse?

November 19, 2014

Below is the actual text of the complaint filed by several political groups to the Secretary of State’s office alleging numerous instances of vote-counting abuse by county clerks in some Colorado counties.

Context: Watchers’ effectiveness has been marginalized, and watchers’ rights to challenge voters and judges’ decisions have been infringed. Significant numbers of key withheld records must be made immediately available to watchers before final canvass board certifications and recount request deadlines occur in order that effective challenges may be filed with the canvass boards and proposals for “corrections of discrepancies” can be made. From the beginning of the election processing and continuing through the present, most clerks are withholding from watchers key election documents being produced in the ordinary course of the election. (Such documents include batch reports, undeliverable ballot lists, signature verification accept/reject records and summary logs, signature verification second tier review decision statistics, VSPC voter reports, ballot processing schedules, audit logs, interim tabulation reports, lists of judges and their affiliations, automated signature approval performance reports, etc.) Most seriously, the signature verification process was for the most part unverifiable by watchers, and documentation of the decisions made was not made available after verbal and written requests were tendered, as noted below.

Signature verification issues

In numerous counties, if not the majority of counties where signature verification watching was attempted, watchers were unable to appropriately and responsibly review signatures and the signature acceptance/rejection decisions. This prevented responsible challenges to questionable signatures except in very rare cases. As your office is aware, numerous formal and informal complaints were filed regarding the inability of watchers (and even judges) to adequately review return envelope signatures.

The reasons are varied. A partial list aggregated from various counties follows:

The result of the inability of watchers to effectively witness any signature verifications, (including acceptances and rejections at stage two), and lodge appropriate challenges has resulted in an election where there was no bi-partisan or multi-partisan check and balance on eligibility decisions by judges. In many counties for most signatures, the acceptance of a signature and decision to count a ballot was a unilateral decision by one partisan judge and sometimes a machine. The ability to review these decisions is almost non-existent.

Election processing records

In some counties where we have attempted to watch election processes underway, clerks are not allowing watchers to review any of the records being used or generated in the conduct of the election. We are being told that watcher requests for documents will be treated as CORA requests with all the associated waiting periods. The “unusual circumstances” provision often creates a 2+ week delay in fulfillment. The requirement to pay considerable sums in advance for research and redaction or per page costs prior to any delivery of the records is also an insurmountable obstacle to election transparency.

Watchers’ statutory rights are not to be constrained in this manner. Watchers cannot possibly “verify each step in the conduct of the election,” or “assist in the correction of discrepancies” if they are precluded from seeing and verifying the records. Often the verifying and correction of discrepancies necessitates comparison of numbers on printed or electronic documents in hand rather than on an election judge’s or staff person’s screen.

This situation is particularly difficult and prejudicial to minor parties and issue committees given the fact that they have no judges are appointed to defend the interests of their candidates or issue positions. Obstacles to effective watching deny statute protected fairness. The watchers are the minor parties’ only view into, and check and balance on the integrity of the election. The procedures in place during this election have created some beneficial access for watchers to come nearer to the signature verification and other key processes, only to face the impossibility of realistically performing their oversight function. Officials’ restrictions on watchers have prejudiced the rights of minor parties.

Additionally, numerous partisan election judges were recruited and appointed by the clerks without the required request made to the party chairs prior to the election, and without the approval by the party chairs.

We seek your immediate order to the clerks to remedy this failure in the 2014 election.

Proposed solution

The parties, candidates, and watchers now require the ability to review the information that they were repeatedly denied during the processing of the ballots.

  1. Require that Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Jefferson and Pueblo counties immediately transmit captured ballot envelope signature files coupled with related acceptance/challenge/cure status to the SOS office and allow authorized watchers to review such files without making copies of the signatures. If the number of discrepant signatures found are significant enough to impact the outcome of narrow margin races, further research will be required. (It should be noted that such files are files that serve to update Colorado’s voter registration records and are therefore public documents under the provisions of NVRA.)
  1. Immediately issue an order to all counties to the effect that authorized watchers are to be given immediate access via electronically delivered files to all requested existing election records, without cost and regardless of certification decisions having already been made for this 2014 General election. With the centralization of elections through HB 13-1303 and the lack of motivation by clerks to offer the needed transparency and honor watchers’ rights, major gaps in the oversight of the election have occurred and must be remedied before certification, before the deadline for recount requests, and final post-recount certification.

We request a public hearing on this urgent matter, so that all viewpoints can be considered.

The contact information follows for all of the co-complainants.

Please contact us for any additional information needs.


Marilyn Marks

Watcher for the Libertarian Party of Colorado

Denver, CO 80202


Harvie Branscomb

Watcher for Libertarian Party of Colorado

(Arapahoe, Adams, Boulder, Pueblo, Jefferson, Eagle, Larimer,

Denver, Park, Fremont, Douglas, Garfield counties)


Mary Eberle

Watcher, Canvass Board Member, Boulder County Chair,

American Constitution Party


Ellyn Hilliard

Boulder County Republican Chairman


Becky Mizel

Chairman Pueblo County Republican Party

10580’s Lincoln

Pueblo CO 81004


Anil Mathai

Vice Chair, Adams County Republican Party


Ralph Shnelvar

Chair, Libertarian Party of Boulder County

Longmont, CO 80503


Jennifer Raiffie

Vice Chair, Adams County Republican Party

Thornton, CO 80229


Karen “Jayne’ Schindler

(Adams County)

Watcher for i2i Sunshine on Government


Normagene Ricci

Watcher for Pueblo County Republican Party


Margit A. Johansson

Boulder County Watcher, Green Party

3938 Wonderland Hill Avenue, Boulder, CO 80304,


John Sampson

Watcher for the Adams County Republican Party


Al Kolwicz

Trustee, Colorado Voter Group

Boulder, CO


Jennifer Lorenson

Canvass Board member, Pueblo County


Matthew Linden

Boulder County Libertarian Party Secretary


Mary A Hammett

PO Box 7267

Golden, CO 80403

(Boulder County, Republican Party Watcher)


Phillip Ellsworth

American Constitution Party

Adams County Canvass Board member


Richard Yale

Boulder County Republican Election Judge


Colette McDonald

Boulder, CO

Posted by  11/19/14

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