City Hall doesn’t want hassle of transparency |

City Hall doesn’t want hassle of transparency

Dear Editor:

The Aspen fight against ballot transparency most likely has nothing to do with concealing how people voted, as city officials have claimed.

The reason we use the Australian paper ballot system, in which once all the ballots are cast into a big heap they are all substantially identical to each other, save for the candidate choices made, is exactly so that the ballots can be inspected and counted by anyone who wants to verify the election, the ballots untraceable to voters. It is a clever system, specifically designed to achieve both transparency and voter protection.

If Aspen officials can truthfully claim that those particular ballot images somehow reveal how specific people voted in 2009, then something has gone wrong. An investigation would be in order. No one should vote at all if they think an election would be conducted in such a way that someone, especially a city official, has the access to find out how they voted.

Rather, it seems possible that Aspen officials, like officials across Colorado and even across the country, would prefer that elections simply be over after election day. They want to get back to all the work they have put off to conduct the election. And of course what official would want to take a chance that someone might find that the count was actually close enough to warrant an official recount? What a hassle! And what if someone notices that careful audits tend to come close to official results, but rarely match exactly? It just wouldn’t look good.

No, maybe the fight is mostly about avoiding the precedent of letting just anyone check election results, possibly leading to more work, more questions, maybe some grief. This, even though letting anyone check the results is why we have the Australian ballot.

I live in Massachusetts, where the secretary of the commonwealth has pushed back at attempts to afford the transparency the system was designed for. So Aspen officials are not alone in the fight against full transparency. It’s what many election officials like to do. But Aspen seems to have more money to put into the fight than the average election district.

Mike LaBonte

Haverhill, Mass.

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