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Transparency group: Secret ballot system at Colorado Capitol violates ‘spirit and letter’ of sunshine law

Scott Franz

A government transparency group in Colorado is calling on state lawmakers to stop using a secret ballot system to help decide the fate of bills.

The leaders of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition on Thursday sent Democratic lawmakers a letter saying their system known as quadratic voting violates the state’s sunshine laws and “deprives the public of its right to observe important decision making — in real time.”

“The public is entitled to know which of their elected legislators favored or opposed certain measures under consideration at the Capitol, in votes that have had real-world, bill-killing consequences,” Coalition leaders wrote. “Not only should the public be permitted to observe the voting process in real time under the (open meetings law), the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) requires disclosure of the records of these votes.”

The group sent the letter following a KUNC investigative report about the voting system, which lawmakers started using in 2019 to help decide which bills should get a piece of the state’s limited legislative budget.

Lawmakers denied an open records request from KUNC seeking the results of the secret surveys.

Read the Freedom of Information Coalition’s full letter here.

Scott Franz is an Investigative Reporter with KUNC.