Colorado Supreme Court Reverses Decision in
Koch v. Marks Case
Contact: Jim True, City Attorney, 920-5108 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Aspen, CO – June 28, 2012– The Colorado Supreme Court advised the City of Aspen today that it reversed its grant of the Writ of Certiorari in the Koch v. Marks case. At issue in the lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2009, was the request of Ms. Marks to inspect images of ballots cast in the 2009 municipal election versus the right of citizens to expect that their cast ballots will remain secret.
Although there is no explanation from the court as to its reason for the reversal, the result is that the Court of Appeals decision has been upheld. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case on April 16, 2012.
The City is disappointed in the court’s ruling. However, it should be noted that the only concern of the City regarding this case was the degradation of the citizens’ right to a secret ballot. With safeguards put in place by the Court of Appeals and state legislature that concern was lessened. The City, nonetheless, felt that the Constitution prohibited any public examination of ballots. Thus, the City sought a determination from the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has now concluded that there are no remaining constitutional issues to consider. The City respects the determination.
“The City obviously will comply with the decision of the Court of Appeals. The City of Aspen has never been concerned about the release of the 2009 or 2011 ballots or their images as it relates to the results of the election,” said Jim True, City Attorney. “In fact the City believes that an examination of the ballot images from 2009 will confirm the validity of the election and the efforts of the City to conduct a fair and honest instant runoff election. The only concern has been as it relates to the possibly that the Colorado Constitutional right to a secret ballot has been lessened.”
The Court of Appeals ruled in 2011 that the ballot images could be examined. However, the Court also ruled that the Clerk was required to exclude from examination images that contained any marking that could identify a voter. That determination of whether a marking could identify a voter is within the discretion of the clerk. This is essentially the same safeguard as adopted by the legislature at the end of the 2012 legislative session.
The positive aspect of today’s ruling is that the City of Aspen and the citizenry can move on from the 2009 election, put the issues to rest and focus on the present and future goals of the electorate.