A lost cause by City Hall
October 19, 2011
Mayor Ireland and the Aspen City Council could set the entire state back regarding election transparency if they stick with their behind-closed-doors decision to appeal the recent court opinion on ballot images as open records. I’m writing from Boulder to ask them to let go of the concept that ballots are secret after they are cast.
Aspen has had a part to play in the national theater involving election integrity. Aspen sought to test whether anonymously cast ballots were “secret” or were “open records.” The Colorado Court of Appeals unanimously declared the Aspen ballot images to be open, public records.
In the meantime, activists across the nation have been increasingly looking at anonymously cast ballots, finding out who really won, and gathering data on how well or poorly machines count. It is hard to argue that such findings are insignificant. The League of Women Voters of South Carolina are documenting many irregularities in how their state’s ballots have been counted, for example. None of this would be possible if anonymously cast ballots were kept secret, and then how could the problems be fixed?
So what I’m saying is that the country has moved on. Aspen should also. Please contact the mayor and City Council and ask them to cast their votes for transparency instead of pursuing the costly appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court. They can serve you – their constituents – and all Coloradans by resisting the urge to prove themselves right, because fewer and fewer people, especially judges, agree with them. There are many good things that Aspen’s officials as elected public servants can do for Aspen’s residents. Engaging in further legal wrangling over anonymously cast ballots is not one of them.
Members of Coloradans for Voting Integrity have been watching the developments in Aspen. What Aspen does can affect people statewide, so that’s one reason why this Boulderite felt called upon to offer an opinion. I certainly hope that Aspen residents would chime in if Boulder’s election-related procedures could be harmful to Aspen. Please let wisdom prevail over emotion in this situation.
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Mary C. Eberle