Aspen Election Commission: Votes will be shuffled

Aaron Hedge
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – The Aspen Election Commission implemented measures Wednesday that it expects will prevent people from coupling data generated by municipal ballots with voter logs to find out how people voted.

The move was part of an investigation the group is conducting into the May 2009 election, which garnered controversy over alleged missteps in vote-counting procedures. Some say it is possible to determine how certain people voted, which goes against the Colorado Constitution.

The commission said the data, which reflects votes in the election, must be “randomized” or shuffled so people can’t compare documents to figure out how an individual voted.

Elizabeth Milias, a former election commission member, called the decision a political victory for Millard Zimet, an Aspen lawyer who filed a complaint with the commission about the “unconstitutionality” of the issue; the complaint was dismissed in May.

But City Attorney John Worcester said the allegation that someone can figure out how someone else voted by using the documents was false.

“I don’t want to leave [anyone] with the impression that there’s a possibility to determine how someone else voted,” Worcester said.

Zimet claimed in a public meeting last spring that he knew how to find someone else’s vote and volunteered to prove it by identifying Mayor Mick Ireland’s votes within the data, which is documented by lines in a Microsoft Excel document called ballot strings that reflect individual ballots.

Ireland issued a sworn statement saying Zimet had not correctly identified his ballot string.

Ireland said in an interview last week that it was possible, but very difficult, to determine how someone else voted.