Marilyn Marks: She’s Everywhere You Want To Be

Marilyn Marks.

Marilyn Marks.

A name that keeps popping up in coverage of debate over a local elections bill in the Colorado legislature is former Aspen mayoral candidate Marilyn Marks, who increasingly seems to be a central player in GOP efforts to "crack down" on supposed "vote fraud." As the Colorado Springs Gazette's Megan Schrader reported Monday evening:

One of the state's most tenacious and controversial poll watchers – Marilyn Marks – sat on the Senate floor during debate Monday in opposition to HB1164. Marks and her advocacy group The Citizen Center have been in the middle of controversies in Pueblo County and in Broomfield during election results tabulation and recounting.

Ulibarri wouldn't say whether the change in law was in response to conflicts with Marks, but he did say it was inappropriate for Marks – a lobbyist in all but official registration – to be sitting with Republicans helping to draft amendments.

"I wish I were a lobbyist because then someone would be paying me for what I'm doing," Marks said, adding she was invited to the Senate floor by several lawmakers.

"I was responding to their invitation," she said.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols adds:

Marilyn Marks, the Aspen activist known for fighting mail ballots — her lawsuit successfully challenging the election law Democrats passed last year to require that all voters receive mail ballots resulted in mail ballots being tossed out during two recall elections last September — may have been a driving force behind the sudden GOP opposition to the proposal.

Marks was seated on the Senate floor during Monday morning’s debate, as a guest of one of the Republican lawmakers.

Sen. Jessie Ulibarri's concern about Mark's murky status while a "guest" on the Senate floor Monday appears to have sound basis in Senate rules, which read thusly:

The desks, materials, and papers of Senators are not to be touched by any person other than Senate employees under the direction of the sergeant-at-arms or the secretary of the Senate. Persons visiting the Senate chambers are not permitted to place material upon the desks of Senators. Any material that any person desires to have distributed to the desks of one or more Senators, except through the mail, must be delivered to the sergeant-at-arms… [Pols emphasis]

Lobbyists shall not be permitted on the floor of the Senate unless the lobbyist is a former member who is otherwise authorized pursuant to this subsection (a) to address the members of the Senate regarding a Senate memorial, Senate joint memorial, or House joint memorial expressing sentiment on the death of any person who served as a member of the Senate.

Bottom line: this was a member of the public passing notes directly to legislators on the Senate floor. Under the rules quoted above, this looks like a violation even if she were not a lobbyist. Regardless, though, Marks should not have been on the Senate floor at all–because she should by all accounts be registered as a volunteer lobbyist.

As we briefly mentioned in our 2013 recap series, there are a lot of unanswered questions about the role of Marilyn Marks in recent GOP opposition to election reform legislation. We've heard, as one example, that Secretary of State Scott Gessler has had a longstanding close relationship with Marks which has not been reported in the press. There's no question that Marks' lawsuit during the recall elections last summer had the effect of tilting the playing field to Republicans by eliminating mail ballots. Marks' personal motives have been attributed to a pedantic fixation with "vote fraud" after losing the Aspen mayoral election a few years ago, and she has quickly acquired a reputation for being kind of…well, eccentric is the word one politely uses for crazy people with money.

In any event, as a qualified source succinctly put it to us, we don't need lobbyists close enough to actually put their hands in the puppet on the Senate floor.


25 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bullshit! says:

    It would make sense that Republicans needed to bring in a hive mind, since they themselves are mindless.

  2. This is definitely, um, "odd". I don't know the effects of the bill, but having Marks on the floor passing notes is against the spirit and quite possibly the letter of our lobbying restrictions.

  3. mamajama55 says:

    Marks is still aiming at HB1303, the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act. In this, she is an ally with Secretary of State Gessler and Independence Institute spox Jon Caldara. Whether or not they meet is not material. They work for the same goals.

    I fully expect to hear of a lawsuit or court proceeding in the near future, with intent to hobble implementation of HB1303, because that's how Marks rolls. It would be a mistake to ever dismiss her as just an "eccentric". She gets around the law because no one ever calls her on it.

    Here in Pueblo, some of the "gundamentalists" are collecting the leftover yellow election cards from the 2013 recall election, as "evidence" for some as-yet-unknown legal adventure.   I'm personally sure that this will tie in to whatever scheme Marks is cooking up.

  4. Moderatus says:

    Once again, if she was a Democrat…

    • mamajama55 says:

      If Marilyn Marks were a Democrat, I'd expect her to by trying to get more people  (of whatever affiliation) to vote. That's what Democrats do.

      • Moderatus says:

        We all want every person who is legally permitted to vote. What I want it for it to be easy to vote, but hard to cheat. That's all Marilyn Marks wants too.

        • mamajama55 says:

          Sounds good, Moddy. If only it were true.

        • roccoprahn says:

          Please cite a documented case of voter fraud, anywhere, any time, any State and any election. 

          I didn't mean republican ELECTION FRAUD. That's well documented. I'm asking for voter fraud. They are two distinctly different forums.

          You don't need to use caldara or coulter, or any republicans that have been caught committing voter fraud. If you can cite a case, it'll help your credibility some.

          • There were actually a few (single digits) found here in Colorado (party affiliation not considered) during Gessler's witch hunt. Compared to the number of voters disenfranchised or inconvenienced by Republican attempts at voter "integrity" efforts, the instances are miniscule – and wouldn't be caught in whatever laws the GOP is coming up with.

            Republicans long ago ditched innocent until proven guilty, risk analysis, or any other public focused rationale for their election policies. They want to win; that's all you need to know.

        • BlueCat says:

          Yes please show us evidence of a single documented case of successful fraudulent voting. That would mean a case where a fraudulent vote was successfully cast, it wasn't caught and it counted in an election.

          Funny how no gun owner should be inconvenienced for even a matter of minutes by background checks that have caught hundreds of disqualified would be gun purchasers here and stopped them from completing their purchases.  The percentage, your side tells us, isn't worth any inconvenience to legit purchasers. But when it comes to voter fraud, even if you can't prove so much as one vote out of a million got through and affected an election, the theoretical possibility that it might happen is absolutely worth imposing draconian levels of inconvenience on legit voters and even wrongly preventing any number of legit voters from exercising their right to vote at all.

          This perfectly illustrates the value righties place on every qualified American voter being allowed to participate in the democratic process. Your hatred of all things big "D" Democratic now apparently includes the whole small "d" democratic process. Which at least shows you know enough about demographics to know that the less participation of legit voters the better for your side.

          • I'll repeat in clear language: Gessler caught a few (single digits) people who actually voted in two elections in a single cycle. They were documented and forwarded on to local DAs.

            There IS documented evidence of vote fraud; asking AC to prove it makes us look petty. It's just that it's a vanishingly small problem. It's not solved by Republican suggested voting "reforms". And those "reforms" do disenfranchise people in the hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, or possibly even hundreds of thousands per state.

            • Andrew Carnegie says:

              PR.  Thanks for leaving me out of this one.

            • BlueCat says:

              So two and both forwarded to local DAs. What would these people be saying if only two disqualified would be gun purchasers  were caught by the new background check protocols? We know because they say the same thing over hundreds or thousands. It's not worth inconveniencing legit purchasers. Now if there were hundreds or over a thousand or two voters being referred to DAs, they'd have a leg to stand on. We all, including all of them, know it's strictly about suppressing Dem leaning voters.

              And when people contend that voter fraud is a problem that requires these extreme responses it's on them to provide back up. You managed.  What's s wrong with asking AC to do the same? He probably wouldn't want to because he knows how pathetic the numbers are.

              • Davie says:

                Well, 30k gun deaths each year are no BFD.  Five or six fraudulent votes just means *waaaayyy* too many Democrats are getting elected.

                Just so we're clear on GOTP values.

              • Because we're passing by opportunities in asking for sources when (a) we know that, within a certain context, the statement is true, and (b) that context opens up a response that further decimates his argument.

                Why go for the he-said, she-said childish path when you can actually make a quick score on solid footing?

                • BlueCat says:

                  One more time. He made the assertion. It's on him to present something, anything, to back it up. I made no assertion in that comment, just issued a challenge for back up. You met it. Mama met it. Why shouldn't AC?


                  I knew there were one or two actual fraudulent votes and I know that's not even approaching enough to make a case for draconian suppressive measures. I just challenged AC to show me one. I knew he wouldn't because he makes his accusations without any real knowledge, unlike you or mama. If you think that was childish,  I certainly respect your right to judge it so.

              • mamajama55 says:

                Re: voter fraud in CO since 2004: Not a problem.

                There were two noncitizen voters in Pueblo; one in 2006, one in 2007. Both were European citizens, in case that matters. The statute of limitations had passed, so DA Chostner didn't prosecute.. Here's the link. There were a total of 17  cases of suspected voter fraud, I think in the whole state of Colorado over the last 10 years. Those 17 turned out to be citizens, who voted properly.  That was out of the 16,000 Gessler claimed were illegally voting, and 5,000, whom he claimed had actually voted in 2010.

                Zero prosecutions. for the same reasons; voters went back to their home country, honest mistake, statute of limitations had passed, voter couldn't be located.

                Then there were 6 in Boulder, who didn't vote, but were registered. They had been honest, marking their registration forms that they were not citizens, but someone registered them, anyway.* 

                They withdrew their registrations when contacted by the Secretary of State. A similar problem happened with two  people registering voters – they claim to have done nothing wrong, but are being charged with misdemeanors.


                *I can vouch that this was a real problem – there are people who tried hard to register noncitizens in 2012 in Pueblo. Apparently, Republican operatives wanted some fire for all of their smoke they were blowing around.

                So that is 10 verified cases of noncitizens registering,  and two cases of noncitizens voting, in 10 years – after all of the man-hours in the Secretary of State's office and the DA's offices chasing a nonexistent problem.

  5. mamajama55 says:

    Anyway, we know what Marilyn Marks is up to with her "consulting" on HB1164.. As usual, she is trying to block regular voters from voting in normal elections in Colorado.  Marks' Citizen Center organization declares that HB1164 will create "drive-by voters". Not any improvement from the last misnomer of "gypsy" voters. Additionally, "drive-by" sounds so gangsterish, so urban, so…you get the connotation Marks was aiming for. 

    HB1164, which is currently on its third hearing in the Senate, is expected to narrowly pass, and pass the House, as well.

    The intent of the bill is to "update and streamline local government and special district elections," according to a press release by the majorities in both the Senate and the House. 

    The bill is an update of the election code for non-partisan (municipal, special district, and school district) elections supported by the Colorado Municipal League, The Special Districts Association, Colorado Association of School Boards, and other local districts. The bill creates one standard for residency in Colorado elections and allows people who move the ability to vote where they live.  A bipartisan group of county clerks, legislators and representatives of local governments helped craft the language of the bill over several months. The Secretary of State’s office also offered input but at the last minute changed from neutral to opposing the bill.

    I know, that last sentence is a shocker. Anyone still doubt that Marks is working with Gessler?

    The other bill Marks is probably "consulting" on, HB1128, is in the State committee, and unlikely to come out of it. That would be from Szabo and Harvey. Its stated purpose is to "reduce voter identity theft", so you know where they're coming from:

    Valiantly protecting the vote from all those hordes of demonic demoncrats, just waiting to cast their identity theft ballots of doom, after which they will drive off in their drive-by chariots, honking and howling manaically. Or something.

    And our charming "Pueblo plumber", and wannabe election clerk, Victor Head,  lied again today in hearing testimony.  He told Representative Salazar that signature cards weren't used in Pueblo County when Pueblans began voting in the Recall election.

    Everyone who voted in the recall election had a signature card issued to them by the election clerk, whether they chose to use it, or not. These are a matter of public record, and can be viewed through the County elections office.

    What is it with this guy, that he lies, or, to be charitable, "misleads", when it is so easy to check?

    In spite of the purposeful fraud of Caldara and copycats, voter fraud is very rare in Colorado. As Rep. Hullinghorst said in the press release about HB1164,

    “Colorado has a safe, secure elections system. Voter fraud is rare, but we will continue to work this year to pass laws that ensure every eligible voter has the right to vote while not tolerating anyone who tries to game the system,” said Rep. Hullinghorst.

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