City Hall should let this one go
October 19, 2011
Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to members of the Aspen City Council.
As a lifelong Democrat, I am embarrassed that a totally Democratic city council in our state has decided to challenge the recent Court of Appeals support of public inspection of anonymously voted ballots.
It looks bad when elected representatives of the party claiming to serve the majority will go to such lengths to deny the public this means of oversight in Aspen elections. And whose money will be used to pay the lawyers? The recent court judgment confirms the public’s right to verify election results. This was a just decision.
Were the state Supreme Court to overturn the earlier judgment, not only might this have adverse repercussions for Democrats in elections beyond Aspen, it is hard to see how such a decision would enhance the reputation of the state’s judicial system. Why would officials truly serving the public thwart the public’s use of an important tool for confirming election results?
Also, it is hard to take seriously claims of concern over ballot anonymity in this matter. Ballot anonymity could easily be maintained by procedures required in the viewing of ballots.
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I believe the anonymous ballot was instituted to make sure eligible voters were not unduly influenced in their vote, as in coercion or vote-buying. We live in a state which, sad to say, sanctions routine violations of ballot anonymity (found in the increased use of no-excuse mail ballots, and in the easy allowance of third-party delivery of voted absentee ballots (CRS 1-8-113 (1)(a) for county-run elections, and CRS 31-10-1004 for municipal elections). When it comes to honoring the value of ballot anonymity, denying the public inspection of anonymously voted ballots is no place to start.
Please let the appeals court decision stand.