Council, mayor to decide changes to Aspen election code |

Council, mayor to decide changes to Aspen election code

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – A public hearing is scheduled near the end of Monday’s Aspen City Council meeting on an ordinance that amends the city’s Municipal Election Code, including the official repeal of instant runoff voting, also known as IRV.

The meeting at City Hall starts at 5 p.m., and it is expected to be the last regular meeting for Councilman Dwayne Romero, who is stepping down to become Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s director of economic development.

In November, city voters repealed IRV, a system that generated controversy following the May 2009 city council and mayoral elections. The ordinance before councilmen today will finalize its repeal, officially striking the system from the election code.

In addition, the ordinance seeks to amend other sections of the election code, adding procedural changes based on recent recommendations from the city’s election commission. According to a Jan. 13 memorandum from commission members to the council, those procedures involve:

• Counting write-in votes: The memo states that one of the issues raised after the May 2009 election was that write-in votes were not properly counted. The proposed ordinance will require that a candidate who wishes to be an official write-in candidate must file an “affidavit of intent” 20 days before the election. In addition, the ordinance details how those write-in votes will be counted.

• Special absentee voting: Another issue from 2009, according to the election commission’s memo, was that the city clerk traditionally allowed voters who would not be reachable by mail to vote on a photocopy sample ballot before official ballots were available. The ordinance authorizes a process for “special absentee voting” and also advises the voter that their ballot will be duplicated onto an official ballot on election day in order to be counted. This type of process is allowed under county and state regulations as well.

• Identification: It also was pointed out after the 2009 elections that no identification was required during voting. ID is not a requirement of the current election code. An amendment in the ordinance changes the code to require identification. However, the election commission recommended that if a voter does not have ID, but is known to any of the election judges at a polling place, the judge could sign an “oath of identity” to allow that person to vote.

Councilmen can choose whether to adopt some or all of the amendments in the proposed ordinance, but the commission memo states that they “must adopt at least Section 1” so that the IRV can be officially repealed in the wake of the Nov. 2 voters’ mandate.

Also for Monday’s meeting, a public hearing has been scheduled regarding the proposed redevelopment of the Given Institute property in Aspen’s west end. Earlier this month, however, the company that had proposed three luxury homes for the 2.25-acre property, SC Acquisitions LLC, withdrew its application.

Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland said last week a public hearing on the Given property would be held anyway in case someone wishes to discuss an alternative plan. The University of Colorado owns the land and hopes to find a buyer soon because of its expensive upkeep and to shore up the university’s sagging financial situation. CU holds a demolition permit for the Given Institute building, the site of many university conferences and events over the past four decades.

Many Aspen officials and members of the community have spoken out in recent months about the future of the Given building and the scenic property on which it sits. It appears that the general consensus of opinion is that the community desires to keep the land from being redeveloped into residential lots and wants to preserve the architecturally acclaimed building and the property for nonprofit or public use.

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