April 23, 2014

SB 12-155: Enacting Protections for Examination of Ballots Within Certain Time Limits Before and After Elections and also Restricting Who Can Handle Ballots During Recount

On March 1, 2012, Sen. Rollie Heath and Rep. Lois Court introduced SB 12-155 – Concerning Procedures to Protect Transparency in Elections While Preserving the Integrity of Ballots In Connection With a Request for Public Inspection of Ballots Under the “Colorado Open Records Act.” This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

The bill prohibits the designated election official from fulfilling a request under the “Colorado Open Records Act” (CORA) for the public inspection of either ballots or ballot images arising out of any election in the state during the period commencing with the 45th day preceding election day and concluding with the date by which the official is required to certify an official abstract of votes cast for the applicable candidate contest or ballot issue or ballot question.

The stay required by the bill does not apply to a recount undertaken as provided by law. As with other public records open for inspection by the public under CORA, an interested party may inspect ballots in connection with the recount without having to obtain a court order granting such inspection.

In connection with the public inspection of ballots that an interested party is authorized to undertake in connection with a recount, the bill permits an interested party to witness the handling of ballots involved in the recount to verify that the recount is being conducted in a fair, impartial, and uniform manner so as to determine that all ballots that have been cast are accurately interpreted and counted but prohibits the interested party from handling the original ballots.

The bill specifies that its provisions shall not affect either the ability of a person to serve as a watcher or the operation of a canvass board. On March 14, the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee amended the bill and moved it to the full Senate for consideration on 2nd Reading.

Since this summary, the Second Reading was laid over until March 23.

Summaries of other featured bills can be found here.