Election activist claims she’s broken Boulder’s ballot code


election reform advocate who has been blowing the whistle on ballots that can
be traced back to voters is claiming that she “broke the code” to Boulder
County’s ballot-numbering system last week.

Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall submitted a new, more complex
vote-counting process to Secretary of State Scott Gessler this week, and that
may make the discovery moot.

Marks, who filed suit against Gessler and several Colorado counties after it
was revealed that ballots could be traced back to voters in Chaffee County,
told Boulder Weekly that she figured
out how to track voter identities using Boulder County’s system of serial
numbers and bar codes, an approach that she says violates state law.

state Constitution says “no ballots shall be marked in any way whereby the
ballots can be identified as the ballot of the person casting it.” In response
to the Chaffee County discovery, Gessler issued an emergency rule saying
counties must stop using numbers on ballots.

claims that she and her group, the Citizen Center, figured out the numbering
system used by Hall’s office over the weekend of Sept. 15-16 and were able to
successfully trace ballots back to voters.

something like a third-grader would make up,” she said of Boulder County’s
process. “It’s an insultingly stupid system.”

her attorney’s advice, she declined to give specifics about the number system
previously used by Hall’s office, but that information is expected to be
disclosed at a court hearing on Friday, Sept. 21.

acknowledges that the Sept. 17 memo Hall sent to the secretary of state’s
office outlines a much more complex system, one that she has not yet been able
to comprehend completely.

a letter accompanying that memo, Hall wrote to Gessler, “Although no voted Boulder County ballot has ever been
traced to a voter, anonymity concerns have nonetheless been raised by the
voting public as a result of processes used by other counties. Like you, I
believe it is important to implement precautions that ensure voter anonymity.”

adds in the letter that her system adheres to the intent of Gessler’s emergency

hope you will agree that Boulder County’s process complies or substantially complies
with those requirements,” Hall wrote.

memo itself outlines her office’s use of randomization, repeating numbers and
shuffling processes, which she says ensures that ballots can’t be traced back
to individual voters.

told BW that she was aware of Marks’
claim, but she has no details on how she may have traced ballots and agrees
that it’s a moot point now, considering the improvements that her office has

if she did ‘crack the code,’ whatever exactly that means, our process we’re
putting in place for the general election, whatever they used from our previous
elections is not relevant because we are continuing to improve our processes,”
she says. “There is physical, manual shuffling of the ballots before they go
into the envelopes, so no one has any idea what number went into what

says the improvements are not an acknowledgement that the process was flawed in
the past, they are just additional measures to ensure confidentiality now that
ballots have been declared open records.

think the issue is already addressed, so we haven’t spent a ton of time looking
at it,” she says of Marks’ purported discovery. “True or not true, I think the
processes we’re adding address any of the issues they may have found with
previous elections.”