Hell Hath No Fury: The Revenge of Marilyn Marks

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

In almost any endeavor, paying close attention to details will pay dividends.

For evidence of this wise advice, one need only see the recent success of Marilyn Marks and how her attention to the details of the Colorado Constitution singlehandedly reset two high profile recall elections and may possibly impact the outcomes.

The Colorado Libertarian Party was victorious in a lawsuit where they argued that it has the right to petition to get on the two recall election ballots up until 15 days before the recall elections, and they have Marilyn Marks and her feelings about mail-in ballots to thank for it.

When Denver District Court Judge Robert McGahey ruled in favor of the Libertarian Party, he noted that it was clearly stated in the constitution that candidates had until 15 days before a recall election to petition to get on the ballot.

Where mail-in ballots come into play is all about timing. With the ruling giving the Libertarian Party up to 15 days before the recall elections to petition its own candidates, using mail-in ballots for the recall elections became impossible.

The problem is that a new law passed by the state legislature mandates that all elections use mail-in ballots. Judge McGahey ruled that the constitution rightly takes precedence.

The legal decision may sound like a battle for ballot access, but with Marilyn Marks involved, the decision is all about mail-in ballots and Marks’ battle against them.

Marilyn Marks feels that mail-in ballots can lead to various problems, including voter intimidation and fraud. Her criticisms were ignored when the legislature went ahead and made mail-in ballots the law of the land.

But this week, with Judge McGahey’s ruling, Ms. Marks won her revenge.

Yes, after the September 10th recall elections, all other elections in Colorado will go back to mail-in status. But the impact of Marks’ work will be far from over.

Since the recall elections will now need to be held in polling places, the cost of the elections will be significantly higher. Also, the turnout may be completely different since mail-in ballots usually have a higher participation. And since polling places usually draw out the most motivated voters, the outcome may be very different than what it would have been with mail-in ballots.

In short, by advising the Libertarian Party with this lawsuit, and winning, Marilyn Marks not only made a point about mail-in ballots but may also have changed the outcome of both of the recall elections.

One must wonder if lawmakers didn’t pass the all mail-in ballot law this year, whether Marks would have been so intent to make her point with these recall elections. We may never know.

What is clear is that one should never underestimate the impact of someone who pays close attention to detail. You never know when that attention will pay off and possibly change the face of an historic election.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.

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