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Election questions

Dear Editor:

I was glad to read your letter to editor generously offering to answer questions. What might a citizen risk by asking questions? From my perspective, two voluntary commissioners were recently dismissed following an unjust smear campaign that prevented their pursuit of election quality improvements. It appears to me that their principal error was to ask difficult questions.

It has been reported that the city knowingly skirted the law by holding a secret meeting to discuss spending marketing funds. Were election commissioners railroaded from their roles for a similar but unintentional technical infraction after questioning election impropriety?

There were procedural defects reported for the May 5 election, such as less-than-private early voting, keys left in ballot box, insufficient testing, last minute changes to software setup, non-random and incomplete auditing, failure to audit the tabulation in time, etc. Will there be a public discussion of these and other problems, which I believe some council members may already know about?

If the city believes that the ballots and digital images cannot legally be removed from the locked ballot box for inspection, wasn’t it illegal to open the box on May 7 for a part of an audit?

If voted ballots are not allowed to be seen by the public why does Ordinance Sec. 2.26.050 require:

“At a minimum, the City Clerk shall arrange the counting of ballots so that the candidates and their representatives may observe the ballots as they are counted.”

What powers do you believe the Colorado law says the Election Commission has under the City Charter and state law? Colorado law appears to give power to the Election Commission for purposes of checks and balances. In your view, who or what entity provides election oversight in Aspen?

Should City Council members select two election commissioners while essentially employing the third, knowing their own re-election might depend on an Election Commission decision?

Are citizen members of the Election Commission expected to avoid representing their party’s interests? Are candidates expected to refrain from advocating to commissioners?

If future election commissioners learn that election officials have made a mistake do they have any ability to overrule the officials? Could they become subject to another retroactive recall for questioning the city attorney’s advice? What protects them from a smear campaign which renders them impotent if they disagree with City Council?

Recognizing that irregularities occurred, and since the Election Commission asked, why wasn’t the Election Commission allowed outside counsel?

Does the city inform its citizen volunteers regarding the rules regarding open records and open meetings? Were Kathryn Koch’s meetings with Elizabeth Milias or with Chris Bryan (but not together) more acceptable than the few meetings Milias and Bryan had without Koch.

Are the recently applied standards for Election Commission meetings and records applied to the Housing Frontiers Board and the Financial Advisory Board? Do these groups announce meetings or take minutes?

When were the two election commissioners dismissed, or did their term simply end in July? As a commission member by law, is Kathryn Koch now a quorum by herself and therefore perpetually in a public meeting subject to CORA?

Is it possible for someone to overturn the election (not that I want to) considering that the deadline for contests is over?

Harvie Branscomb

El Jebel