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A defender of democracy

Dear Editor:

Sum Lum’s attack on Marilyn Marks (“Get the message, Marilyn? It’s time to move on,” The Aspen Times, March 17, 2010) is striking for its venom, its display of ignorance, and quite frankly, its utter and complete failure to understand the role of democracy. After reading I could only conclude that Ms. Lum would far prefer to live in a dictatorship run by her friends. I presume that Ms. Lum would have been happy living in the Soviet Union under the Communists or Germany under the National Socialists had the dictators supported her views.

Ms. Lum fails to understand the basic premise of Ms. Marks’ complaint regarding Aspen’s voting system. As Ms. Marks has explained many times, there is no assurance that the current system guarantees that the declared winners of the election actually won the most votes, due to the various algorithms that can be used to determine a winner if one candidate does not get a majority of votes. Thus Ms. Lum’s statements – “We voted. We spoke. It’s done” – are correct only if one is willing to accept that the declared winner may not have actually won. The way to pick the real winner is to hold a runoff election between the two highest vote-getters. Aspen’s solution may lead to a different result.

Ms. Marks has been trying to make the point for months. She has asked that the ballot images be released so that those who actually understand the problems with the voting methodology can determine whether there is a problem. The city and its leaders, whom I believe to be very corrupt, do not want to hear the message.

Ms. Lum might consider the implications of Ms. Marks’ defeat in district court. Today many of us worry that the nation’s rush to shift to computerized voting may make it possible for the providers of these services to affect a future election. Since most of the companies supplying these services tend to be very conservative, Ms. Lum might consider the implication of a close future election where extreme conservatives take control of the country singing questionable vote courting techniques like those used in Aspen. Is that what she wants? Marilyn’s loss could lead to a government led by Rush Limbaugh’s clones put in power through voting techniques (frauds) similar to those used in Aspen.

Unfortunately, Winston Churchill got it right when he said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except all those others that have been tried.” Ms. Lum should praise Ms. Marks for her defense of democracy – not complain.

I will add that we moved from Aspen because we were unwilling to own property in a town where we believed the government to be corrupt. Ms. Marks, to her credit, has stood and fought rather than cutting and running.

The simple compromise to the issue is to return to runoff elections. They assure that the winner is the candidate who gets the most votes rather than the candidate who happened to be the beneficiary of an algorithm.

Philip K. Verleger

Carbondale


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