Aspen responds to election complaints
August 10, 2010
ASPEN – City attorneys, responding Monday to three complaints filed with the Aspen Election Commission earlier this year alleging potentially illegal and unethical practices by the city during the May 2009 city election, said the complaints are unfounded.
The lengthy responses to the complaints attempted to address each allegation in full, but boiled down to seven points – “facts that should be undisputed” – cited at the beginning of the document.
The first of those points said, “The May 2009 election was the most transparent election in Aspen history, if not in the history of the entire state of Colorado.”
When asked about that point last week, City Attorney John Worcester said it was not a fact, but an opinion.
The following points regarded election data translation, indicating the city had not done anything wrong.
The response, attorneys said, has been ready for a while, but they said the city has not been able to publish it because they suspected many of the same allegations were addressed in a complaint filed with the district attorney by Aspen resident Marilyn Marks earlier this year.
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District Attorney Martin Beeson made the investigation of that complaint public Friday, saying any allegations in it were outside his jurisdiction.
Marks, a mayoral candidate in the 2009 election; El Jebel resident Harvie Branscomb; and Aspenite Elizabeth Milias all filed complaints.
The City Council on Monday night also held its first reading of two possible alternatives to a controversial voting method adopted by voters in 2007.
The council was not technically required to allow public comment, Mayor Mick Ireland said at the beginning of the 25-minute review, but Marks demanded time. She said the council had promised to hold two public hearings before making a decision on whether the measures would be on the ballot.
The system could be replaced by a winner-take-all model or a modified version of the traditional majority runoff that would give mayoral and City Council seats to candidates who receive 40 percent or more of the vote.
She asked the council to consider removing a clause in one of the new rules that requires ballots in any future runoff to be protected from public scrutiny. Marks contended that, in order to have a transparent election, the public must be able to audit the ballots.
Marks finished second behind Ireland in the May 2009 election. She sued the city last year because it refused to comply with an open-records request for the images of the election ballots, which Marks contended are public records.