Aspen voters decide on…voting | AspenTimes.com

Aspen voters decide on…voting

Janet Urquhart
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Aspen will do away with runoff elections in favor of instant runoff voting, if the views of a smattering of voters exiting the polling place for Precincts 1 and 2 late Tuesday afternoon are any indication.

Turnout is expected to be light for the off-year election, which features just five city referendums, but at least one voter said Referendum 2E, amending the city’s home-rule charter to allow instant runoff voting for council elections, drew him to the polls. He wanted the measure to pass.

So did a number of others who made their way to the Precinct 1 and 2 polling place.

Instant runoff voting would do away with the City Council runoff elections that take place in June when candidates don’t receive a sufficient number of votes in the initial council election in May. Instant runoff voting would force voters to rank candidates in order of preference; if no winner emerges after first choices are tabulated, a series of computerized runoffs would take place, using each voter’s preferences for first, second, third, etc., as noted on the ballots.

Council and mayoral candidates must win by 50 percent of the vote, plus one, under the proposal.

Voter Doug Allen said he favored instant runoffs.

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“It gets it all over with much more expediently,” he said.

Several voters noted the expense of having a second round of elections ” both for the city and candidates who must muster a follow-up campaign.

Runoffs are “a drain for people after they’ve already gone through one campaign,” said Karen Day-Greenwood. “It’s so hard on everybody and expensive.”

“I just think we just need to save the money,” agreed another voter. “It costs so much more for the city to do another election. I think it makes sense, financially.

One voter simply said instant runoff voting is worth a try. “Hopefully, we could always change it if we don’t like it,” she said.

Voters amended the city charter in November 2000 to institute runoff voting and the first runoff took place in June 2001, when voters chose Helen Klanderud over Rachel Richards for mayor after neither candidate received 50 percent of the votes cast, plus one, in the first go-round.

One voter Tuesday said she voted against 2E, swayed by this year’s mayoral race between Mick Ireland and Tim Semrau. Ireland ultimately won the post in the June runoff after the candidates spent an additional month stumping for votes and clarifying their stances on the issues, while voters mulled over their choice for mayor.

“I guess it doesn’t hurt to have a second thought about it,” she said.

Aspen’s ballot also features Referendum 2A, which proposes a sales tax and use tax on construction materials to fund city transit services and pedestrian amenities; Referendum 2B, proposing a property tax increase to fund an expanded stormwater management system; Referendum 2C, proposing a bond issue to fund a new hydroelectric facility on Castle Creek; and Referendum 2D, authorizing a change in use of open space for the hydroelectric plant.

See aspentimes.com Tuesday evening for election results as they become available. The polls close at 7 p.m.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com