Ruling may clarify awarding of attorney fees under CORA

From The Mountain Mail (Salida):  A decision by the Colorado Supreme Court in a case involving Chaffee County and voting transparency advocate Marilyn Marks could clarify the issue of awarding attorney fees under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA).

Presenting oral arguments before the court Tuesday, the two parties offered differing interpretations of a specific subsection in CORA. The case before the court stems from two record requests Marks made during the 2011 general election.

Originally Marks emailed former Chaffee County Clerk and Recorder Joyce Reno asking to “review some voted ballots from the 2010 general election,” according to court documents.

After being alerted that the request was too broad and could not be fulfilled, Marks sent a second request – without revoking the initial request – asking to “inspect and copy the first anonymous/untraceable ballot in the mail-in ballot group … in the first box of mail ballots stored in the November 2010 election,” court documents state.

While clarifying that her request was not being denied, the county responded again saying the request would present an undue burden on Reno’s office during an election, and that Reno had petitioned the district court for guidance on the request.

The former clerk then filed a CORA action in district court seeking to prevent disclosure “because she ‘believe(d), in good faith, that Colorado law prohibits’ the disclosure of voted ballots, and that such disclosure would substantially injure the public interest by chilling a citizen’s right to vote.”

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