Why HB14-1164 must go to conference committee.
February 16, 2014. HB-1164 is not ready for passage. It cannot be implemented as constructed. A Citizen Center report addresses legal construction defects, conflicts in law, and unworkable language. It identifies a few key issues, as examples, although there are over 100 errors that require remedies or risk expensive, confidence-destroying litigation.
Alternative to HB14-1164 announced at press conference.
February 3, 2014. A bill has been introduced as an alternative to HB14-1164. The bill proposes a two year timeout on further implementation of HB13-1303 and formation of a bipartisan commission – structured like the flood disaster commission -- to analyze and propose amendments to HB13-1303.
To watch the press conference, click this YouTube link http://youtu.be/KItKPaXk2XM
Election System Expert recommends detailed changes to HB14-1164
February 1, 2014 - House Bill 1164 is not one of those bills that can be treated to a one-page expression of support or criticism. That is out of the question.
The bill makes hundreds of changes to election law in its 134 pages generating dozens of new unexpected consequences and making antique provisions of law look like they enjoy modern legislative support. It has taken election system expert Harvie Branscomb over 40 hours to analyze, including two all nighters, since the bill was released to the public on Jan 21.
Branscomb has provided legislators a guide to recommended changes, and a pdf showing tracked changes for amendments to 1164 that the public deserves before this bill becomes law. The bill is expected to be passed within a week or so on its fast track to adoption.
Four Bills that Impact Election System
Go to Committee on Monday
On Monday January 27th, legislators will consider four bills that will impact the election system.
Three Senate bills will improve elections, SB14-070, SB14-071, and SB14-079. Colorado Voter Group recommends a YES vote on these three Senate bills.
The House bill will severely worsen an already broken election system, HB14-1164. Colorado Voter Group recommends a NO vote on this bill.
Please write or call your legislators to encourage them to support the three senate bills and delay the house bill until it can be repaired. Also, try to attend the Committee meetings at the Capitol at 1:30 on Monday. Just your being there will help.
Legislators will also consider HB14-1164 -- a huge bill that is being rushed thru before it has been carefully read. Like its predecessor, HB13-1303 which has already caused so much grief, this bill is huge, was developed in the backroom, and is being forced thru despite more than 50 objections raised by the public. We strongly advocate a NO vote on this bill.
Election integrity advocates are under attack by the Broomfield government.
December 19, 2013. It was appalling to watch the heavy-handed, usurpation of authority by the county attorney, the elections director, and the clerk during the Broomfield election. The two legally appointed canvass board members were stripped of their authority to conduct the recount, and the official watchers were denied access to the records needed for verification of the election.
We must not be so complacent as to ignore this direct threat to liberty.
Our nation’s Founders and authors of books such as Animal Farm, 1984, and Brave New World warned us; we cannot simply trust government. We must also watch government and resist every attempt to overstep the boundaries we have set for them. Broomfield is overstepping these boundaries.
To determine which Broomfield council members stand for the people and which stand for the government, ask what they are doing to support open government and transparent records; or do they endorse and enable a secret government?
Harvie Branscomb on Broomfield's fracking election errors.
November 19, 2013. The recently enacted HB13-1303 creates major obstacles to election integrity. The 21,000 vote election was decided by only 17 votes. In his report, Broomfield fracking election errors, Branscomb identifies:
It is Branscomb's opinion that “it is impossible to ascertain the accuracy of this election sufficient to support an outcome based on a 17 vote margin out of 21,000."
Branscomb concludes, "I would hope that the contents of this message will constitute a signal to Broomfield to stop rushing and make sure the rest of the post election process is as conducive of a sufficiently accurate outcome as is possible. And I hope it helps trigger the state to take a very careful look at 64 elections in 64 counties so that a more credible and effective set of election laws and rules and practices can be achieved that will produce confidence in place of dismay."
Broomfield fracking election could be "dirty".
November 15, 2013. Click for PHOTO
The essential role of political parties in assuring honest elections
November 9, 2013. Discussion points for examining the role of political parties. Background, election system elements, election system threats, and role of the party. Click to read ABC's of HB13-1303.pdf
Judge rejects Libertarian Party lawsuit over new Colorado election law
November 4, 2013. Conflicting residency requirements in state and local election laws aren't enough to prompt changes to how Tuesday's election is counted, a Denver judge ruled late Monday. Denver District Judge Michael Martinez agreed that the conflict is problematic. But he ruled that county clerks are doing an adequate job complying with the varying deadlines.
Libertarian Party of Colorado sues Secretary Gessler and Four County Clerks over New Election Law
November 2, 2013. The Libertarian Party of Colorado has filed suit today in Denver District Court challenging several provisions of the recently passed election reform law, HB13-1303, known as The Voter Access and Modernized Election Act. The lawsuit will not delay the election, but does ask for certain races to be voted on again if the number of any improper ballots cast is found to exceed the margin of victory. Jeff Orrok, State Chair of the Libertarian Party, urges all voters to confirm that their ballots include every office and question allowed by Colorado law, and only those offices and questions.
Lawsuit framed to block the use of illegal election laws.
October 14, 2013. A group of Colorado voters is preparing to challenge illegal provisions of the newly adopted election statutes and rules. The revised statutes were approved by the Governor as House Bill 13-1303 on May 10th. The rules were re-written and adopted by the Colorado Department of State on October 9th.
SOS Gessler changes election rules.
October 9, 2013. Colorado’s election rules were replaced today by 138 pages of temporary rules issued by the Colorado Department of State. The temporary rules implement changes required by House Bill 13-1303 which overrides a decisive 2002 vote of the people that prohibits mandatory mail ballot elections and same day voter registration. In addition, for reasons that are not clear, the temporary rules also replace all other election rules. The rules will be in effect for the Coordinated Election currently underway.
Emergency Complaint and request for Emergency Order in Pueblo recall election.
September 9, 2013. Emergency order is sought to delay the opening of the absentee ballot envelopes and to avoid co-mingling the ballots until the absentee ballot process can be verified as accurate, fair and appropriate to avoid potential post-election challenges. UPDATE Sept 9th, SOS Gessler denies request.
Chaos threatens Sept. 10th recall elections.
July 31, 2013. Voter intimidation, gypsy voters, broken rules, and incoherent statutes threaten an upcoming recall election in Pueblo and El Paso counties. The subjects of the recall, Senators Morse and Gigone, are charged with failing to represent the voters who elected them. Key complaints include the use of their positions to violate 2nd Amendment rights and to overturn their electorate's 2002 vote against mandatory mail ballot elections and same day registration.
Judge throws out election in Center, Colorado. Secretary of State fails to set and enforce standards.
July 2, 2013. Due to a violation of civil liberties by local election officials, voters in Center Colorado were deprived of their constitutional guarantee to an anonymous vote. The election was nullified by the District Court. Play Video Message--Town of Center Secret Ballot Problem. While the local election was not supervised by the Secretary of State, the department's culture of disrespect for civil liberties is possibly a contributing factor to the Center abuses.
Governor Hickenlooper signs bill despite massive public objections.
May 10, 2013. Governor signs disruptive election system bill. Partisan legislators conspired with the secret "Colorado County Clerks Association" to overturn two decisive statewide votes. HB13-1303 creates same day registration (defeated by voters 60.8% to 39.2%) and mandatory mail ballot elections (defeated by voters 57.6% to 42.4%). The Governor ignored the many appeals for his VETO. Click to read appeal for the governor's veto. Attachments #1#2
Colorado SOS resolves election complaint; commits to improve election integrity.
March 20, 2013. Colorado’s election system is vulnerable to undetected error and fraud, according to a report by Colorado’s Secretary of State. The report concludes that stricter, measurable standards and increased oversight are needed in order to protect the integrity of elections. Click to read the report and underlying documents.
Officials work with press association to block public access to records.
March 8, 2013.Government-backed organizations including the Colorado Municipal League and Colorado Counties Inc., along with the Colorado Press Association have successfully pushed thru passage of HB13-1041. This bill is reported to have been crafted by a long list of government attorneys and lobbyists.
The bill prevents most of the public from inspecting records that might be used to disclose official malfeasance or misdeeds.
Researcher reports violations to County Commissioners
March 7, 2013. Election researcher Jim August released a report to Commissioners showing that Boulder County violated its purchasing standards. The County used untested, unspecified, unreliable equipment and procedures to conduct the 2012 General Election. Election results have not been certified, and the County has paid more the $200,000 for equipment that may not be useable. Click to read the report and the underlying documents.
County Clerks meet in Secret. Refuse public observers.
January 10, 2013. Colorado County Clerks met secretly in Pueblo, Jan 14-18.
The Agenda calls for 9 sessions on Elections, and at least one on Legislation. CCCA uses paid lobbyists to pursue its objectives. Who pays for this private affair? Who pays for the time off for all of these government officials? And what right do they have to violate the intent of Colorado's Sunshine Laws?
The public is prohibited from participating in the discussions, or even observing the sessions. The Secretary of State’s office is a featured participant. Voting Equipment Vendors are a featured participant. But the public is not permitted to even watch.
Colorado Voter Group's request to observe the meetings was denied.
Vote by Mail Sorter Contracts and Specifications are now online.
January 10, 2013. Specifications and contracts for Boulder County's Mail Sorter are now online. The sorter is used in the county's new, uncertified Mail Ballot Component. Other functions performed by the Mail Ballot Component include personnel, data files, and procedures to verify voter identity (through signatures), maintain the poll book, and cast ballots in behalf of voters.
Click: Hearing Testimony and see "Vote by Mail Sorter Contracts and Specifications".
Boulder County is no-show at HAVA Complaint Hearing
December 26, 2012. Boulder County did not show up to defend itself against charges of using an uncertified voting system modification during the 2012 General election. The County replaced the mail ballot component with new hardware, procedures, and programming. Three people testified in support of the charges: Al Kolwicz, who filed the charges; Jim August, an election integrity poll watcher; and Mary Eberle, a member of the Canvass Board.
Click: Hearing Testimony
Citizen Center Settles Secret Ballot Case with Mesa County
December 12, 2012. The $30,000 settlement resolves disputes with Mesa County involving fundamental election integrity and verifiability. Citizen Center will continue to litigate the secret ballot case (Citizen Center v. Gessler et al.) against Secretary Gessler and the Clerks of Boulder, Chaffee, Eagle, Jefferson and Larimer Counties.
Boulder County Canvass Board withholds certification of 2012 election.
November 26, 2012. Because of obvious defects in reported results, and missing data needed to verify the number of voters, ballots cast, ballots counted, and votes counted in each contest, the majority of the board voted to withhold certification. Colorado Voter Group praised the board's decision,
"We are in total agreement with you that it would be irresponsible for any canvass board or election official to certify any election lacking for each contest, precinct and style verifiable numbers of voters, ballots cast, ballots counted, and votes counted, especially knowing of errors that you cannot dismiss as insignificant."
Petition filed to stop clerks from blocking provisional voter eligibility oversight
November 8, 2012. Authorized watchers from parties, candidates and issue committees are being blocked from challenging provisional voters, and from verifying decisions made by election workers, and from assisting in the correction of discrepancies.
Watchers are being denied visual access to the information on the sealed applications.
Citizen Center and a group of co-petitioners have petitioned Secretary of State Gessler and Requested an Emergency Declaratory Order that will stop clerks from interfering with watchers.
Boulder County Canvass Board and Election Integrity Updates
November 6, 2012. The Canvass Board and the Election Integrity sections of this website have been updated. More detail on Canvass Board duties. More watcher reports and election complaints.
Onerous restrictions eliminate independent oversight of election
November 6, 2012. The Colorado Department of State and many County Clerks meeting in secret without proper notice have issued directives that disallow watchers from witnessing and verifying election processes. By doing so, officials are rewriting the law. The doors to independent oversight of this election have been slammed, and paid government officials are able to influence the outcome of government-favored candidate and issue contests. Colorado's disregard for the rights of the public have turned this into an election that mirrors the Stalin-esque, let the people cast their ballots, we the insiders will decide the outcome and there is nothing they can do about it.
Boulder County settles lawsuit
October 29, 2012. Following numerous complaints from election integrity watchers and the settlement of the Shnelvar v Hall lawsuit, Boulder County has conceded that watchers, in the remaining portion of the 2012 General Election will be permitted to exercise their statutory authority to witness and verify the signature verification process and to participate in problem resolution under certain circumstances. Watchers will now be able to: (i) see the signature scanned from the ballot return envelope and the signature from the voter database being compared, (ii) hear conversations between election judges, and (iii) see the Accept/Reject decision The county also agreed that two election judges from different party affiliations will operate as a team to verify signatures, "when practical". If insufficient judges are available to staff the two person teams, the clerk will continue to perform signature verification with a single election judge operating alone. However, if this happens, (iv) watchers can now escalate any single judge signature verification decision that they question to a team of two judges, before the signature decision is made final. ... more see Transparency Lawsuit
Watcher files complaint; demands suspension of mail ballot processing.
October 25, 2012. Boulder County is using uncertified equipment and faulty voter verification procedures to process incoming mail ballots. Watcher Jim August, a retired engineer, has documented problems and has filed an election complaint. August reports that the equipment is failing and the voter verification process has major flaws. The pollbook, the list of electors who returned their mail ballot, may be contaminated. Forged and unsigned ballot return envelopes can result in ineligible ballots being counted. ... more
ELECTION ALERT: "NEW" Watcher Guidance
October 25, 2012. Colorado SOS Gessler has issued Election Alert 2012-03. Watchers may witness and verify the signature verification process, counties are encouraged to use bipartisan teams of two judges to verify signatures, and clerks are encouraged to allow more than one watcher per party/committee to witness and verify signature verification. Clerks are encouraged to establish a process for watchers to express concerns over signatures; alternatively, watchers may file a HAVA complaint. ... more.
Also, election officials must assign at least one election judge in each location to be the watcher's point of contact, judges must supply watchers with a list of individuals who have voted at that location, and watchers must stay at least six feet from voting booths, ballot boxes, and DREs. Specific authority of watchers is included in the judges' instruction. ... more.
Colorado county clerks blast Gessler for "errors and oversights"
October 8, 2012. The Colorado County Clerks Association today unleashed a litany of complaints on Secretary of State Scott Gessler, pointing to a "cumbersome list of issues" with his office. Read more ...
Click to read Letter from Colorado Clerks to Secretary Gessler.
HAVA complaint filed against Secretary of State
October 1, 2012. Boulder County elector, Al Kolwicz has accused Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler of not enforcing election laws. After getting no response to his notice to the Secretary of the violations, Kolwicz filed an official Help America Vote Act (HAVA) complaint. The complaint charges that the Secretary is permitting the use of uncertified election equipment. Kolwicz, a Colorado Voter Group Trustee, asserts that the use of equipment could result in undetected errors and interfere with public oversight of critical election processes. Click for copy of complaint.
NEW October 8, 2012. Email requests urgent attention on HAVA Complaint -- not bureaucratic foot dragging. The SOS indicates that they may take as long as ninety (90) days to make a determination on the HAVA complaint. Too late, the election will be over. Click to read email.
Secret Ballot denied by Federal Judge Arguello.
September 21, 2012. Federal Judge Christine Arguello ruled today that there is no fundamental right to vote using a secret ballot. She dismissed the lawsuit brought by Citizen Center.
Election Integrity Advocates fear that the ruling will be used by County Clerks and the Secretary of State to continue their illegal practices and to support their theory that government officials, election judges, candidates and issue committees, and many others are permitted to know specific voter's choices. "This will cause some voters to vote as they are told, rather than to freely vote their conscience. Voters will be forced to forfeit voting their conscience, or not vote at all", says Al Kolwicz, Colorado Voter Group Trustee.
Advocates fear also that officials will use the ruling to (i) block Canvass Boards from auditing election materials, (ii) erase important data from election records that are produced in response to Colorado Open Records Act requests, and (iii) block Watchers from performing their official duties. The resultant undetected error and fraud can result in incorrect election outcomes, and incorrect public policy direction.
Systems experts scoff at the suggestion that Colorado election officials can secure the non-anonymous voter information from being hacked, stolen, or even intentionally copied or sold. "Even the nation's most secure sites have not been immune to such threats", says Kolwicz.
Defending the secret ballot has been a very expensive legal undertaking. Citizen Center is seeking financial support to continue their work to protect the secret ballot and the public oversight of elections.
Hidden inside of an insider SOS Week in Brief – Sep 21 is a new Watcher Guideline
This new guideline is a major change in the way that Colorado Department of State (CDOS) interprets Colorado’s Watcher statutes.
Where this new watcher guideline is followed, watchers will be able to more completely exercise their statutory authority to oversee and participate in the conduct of elections.
Where this new watcher guideline is not followed, watchers will continue to be blocked from exercising their statutory authority to witness and verify all steps in the conduct of an election.
The new watcher guideline is not an election rule. It simply reinforces the authority that watchers are delegated by current statute. It is hoped that CDOS will endeavor to enforce the statutes.