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Friday, October 19,2012

Independence Institute backs election integrity lawsuit against Boulder County clerk

By Jefferson Dodge

The Independence Institute has thrown its weight behind a lawsuit filed today against Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall regarding her refusal to allow election watchers to observe certain aspects of the pre-election process.

According to an announcement from the Denver-based nonprofit organization, the group is financially assisting lead plaintiff Ralph Shnelvar, who has been involved in forming a rogue canvass board of Republicans and American Constitution Party members in advance of the election. They swore themselves in on Sept. 25, and Hall has refused to recognize that they have been properly constituted.

Shnelvar and other election integrity activists have been trying to observe pre-election processes both in Hall’s office and at the ballot printer, but they have been rebuffed on some occasions.

The lawsuit alleges that Hall has violated the law by denying authorized election watchers "the ability to meaningfully observe the handling of mail-in absentee ballots and Uniformed Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) ballots, at each stage of the election," according to an Independence Institute press release.

The full text of the suit is available at www.scribd.com/doc/110556033/Final-Hall-Complaint.

"I'm sure the people in the Boulder County clerk's office are highly ethical people," institute President Jon Caldara said in the release. "But highly ethical people let citizens verify the work they are doing."

The institute asserts that Colorado law authorizes political parties, unaffiliated candidates and issue committees to appoint official election watchers to witness and verify each step in the conduct of the election. The lawsuit seeks to require Hall and her office to ensure open access to all authorized watchers. It asks the court to force the clerk to provide the requested access or issue a preliminary injunction to keep Hall from infringing on the watchers' rights. Deputy Clerk Molly Tayer is also named in the suit.

In response to a request for comment, Hall said via email, "This complaint is absurd, and we're confident that will be proven in court. We're being sued for not letting watchers observe a process that they've actually been invited to monitor. This week we sent out schedules telling watchers exactly when we'd be processing military and overseas ballots and other absentee ballots. Mr. Shnelvar knows when these ballots are being processed and knows he can attend."

"Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall has historically imposed some of the least transparent election policies in the state," election integrity activist Marilyn Marks, co-founder of the Citizen Center, said in a prepared statement.

Shnelvar added, "In this crucial presidential election year, it is imperative that all counties' election processes are fully transparent and verifiable."

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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