Scott Gessler targeted by activist over voting in Saguache county and beyond

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for scott_gessler.jpg
Scott Gessler.
Aspen's Marilyn Marks is driven.

The woman behind Citizen Center, a nonprofit organization that focuses on elections issues and more, is pushing Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler's office to hold a hearing prompted by her complaint about alleged voting irregularities in Saguache County. And today, she plans to announce a broader lawsuit focusing on Gessler and officials in several other counties.

Marks's background? "I used to be the primary owner and CEO of a trailer manufacturing firm," she says. "I retired to Aspen in 2002 and ran for mayor in 2009 -- and that experience caused me to get completely passionate about Colorado's elections, which are some of the least transparent, most troublesome elections in the country. In the past almost-three years, I have become a full-time election-quality advocate: I have seven active lawsuits going on across the state on election transparency and election quality. And now, I've established a nonprofit so that I can continue my work in a more organized way."

marilyn marks.jpg
Marilyn Marks.
Even before Citizen Center's founding, however, Marks demonstrated doggedness and focus in regard to issues that concern her -- including the election two years ago in Saguache County.

"They bought with HAVA [Help America Vote Act] funds a very complex computerized voting machine about a month before the 2010 election," she says. "The system that they purchased was not certified by the Secretary of State because they only bought one component of a certified system -- the same system in use in Jefferson County and Mesa County."

According to Marks, "that system had a number of problems when it was decertified and then recertified in 2007-2008 by the Secretary of State's office" -- and she believes the Saguache vote bore them out: "The Saguache election found gross errors as well as an enormous amount of negligence."

Last April, in an effort to prove these contentions, Marks asked the Secretary of State to investigate the Saguache election under the dictates of HAVA. However, his office declined to do so. Why?

"There are two components to a HAVA complaint under state law," says Rich Coolidge, spokesman for the Secretary of State's office. "A person has either to have been personally aggrieved or have personally witnessed the violation. Since Ms. Marks was not a resident of Saguache County and did not witness any of the pieces she alleged, we sent her about a five-page letter on June 22 saying that she didn't have standing."

This response irked Marks. "I live in Aspen, which is not close to Saguache County," she acknowledges. "But I've been helping Saguache citizens for the past year. And the standard Gessler set for what it would take to have standing to file a complaint is an unachievable standard if you're talking about computer and software errors of the type we've seen here. You can't observe a software error happening unless you're inside the computer -- but you can observe the results. And while I could have gotten plenty of Saguache citizens to say, 'I was a voter, and I know the voting machine didn't work right, and I think my vote didn't count,' that person would have had to disclose how they voted and then showed that to be true, which could only happen if they had great access to the voting system."

Such requirements strike Marks as unnecessary given that "we know from system logs and printouts that there were mechanical errors -- like incidents where the clock started running backward."

Page down to read more about Scott Gessler and Marilyn Marks.

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Two sites to check:    Pew Research Center report:    Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient.

And ballotpedia:   Dead People Voting.


Strange how SOS Donetta Davidson, Mike Coffman, and now Scott Gessler  draw the ire of  those who believe " that they are important as determined by how much irritation they can cause others.   Grand Jury report gives a lot more detail than I ever wanted to know about counting votes.   I suggest all should read Pew Research Center report on net, entitled Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient. Check   This problem exists all across this country, but congress will not agree on correcting it.  And do check requirements for drivers's license, Colorado ID, or registration for voting.   Would save a lot of belly-aching.     

Asa Watcher
Asa Watcher

Nearly everything she says in the above article about the Saguache County 2010 is a fabrication, mischaracterization or outright lie.  The machine worked fine once the election judges inserted the right disk which held the correct software to count the 13 different ballot styles in the small county.  The “recount” (its a long story, folks) using the correct software was confirmed when Marks made Gessler parade his political hack “review” to Saguache to have a look at our ballots.  (an event not allowed for in Colorado election law, especially after the vote had been certified by the SOS, and the ballots, by law, sealed and stashed away in the County’s vault)  The “review”/hand count confirmed the election results.  Finding that all the ballots were counted and counted correctly did not make Ms Marks happy, to say the least.

The machine works just fine, Ms. Marks.

So now that Gessler has decided he is not her puppet, she has decided to sue him.

Meanwhile, our financially challenged County had to pay for a recall election when Mark’s angry mob demanded the County Clerk’s head on a stick.

It is interesting to watch a political hack come up against histrionic personality disorder.  Interesting in an an academic sense, a disaster for Colorado.

Yes, our county’s 2010 election was beset with mistakes the biggest of which occurred when the ballot scanning machine was given wrong instructions, and yes, it took a bit of doing to figure out what went wrong, but the first knee jerk overreaction was to file a criminal complaint against the Clerk with the Attorney General.  The AG’s Grand Jury findings are here:


Very interesting reading.


I find it hard to believe that if she really has been "helping Saguache citizens for the past year" that she couldn't find one (1), single, voter to be a plaintiff for her lawsuit.  Certainly there's a retiree willing to do something interesting over the next year or two by acting as Plaintiff.

I applaud her efforts, but if you're going to hold an agency to the legal details, you'd better be able to satisfy those details yourself.  Otherwise, it just looks like whining.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

If the Colorado House of Representatives were not worthless, it would already have impeached the swine!


Johnson, There were plenty of Saguache voters who would have been happy to file the complaint.  (Hundreds of those voters just voted to recall the clerk.)  The problem is not residency but that Gessler was attempting to require that a voter prove that he had been personally harmed. Although a voter knows that  the voting equipment was operating improperly, how can he prove that HE/SHE personally was harmed by the error?  My point is that NO ONE could meet Gessler's standard, regardless of residency.That is why the federal law says "any person" who has reason to believe there is a problem.

Gessler does not deny that there were the problems with the equipment. He just doesn't want to investigate them.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Marilyn, thanks for adding this post. Much appreciated.


"There are two components to a HAVA complaint under state law," says Rich Coolidge, spokesman for the Secretary of State's office. "A person has either to have been personally aggrieved or have personally witnessed the violation."

So find someone personally aggrieved and file your complaint.  You say "a voter knows that the voting equipment was operating improperly."  How do they "know"?  File your complaint and prove it.  It sounds like the SOS is just saying "no harm, no foul."  It's your burden to show the harm.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

He's too busy unearthing individual cases of voter fraud by Republicans from Kansas.

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