Does city have a secret? | AspenTimes.com

Does city have a secret?

Dear Editor:

With the sea of red herrings coming out of City Hall on the issues of election transparency, the public will finally have an opportunity to gain more objective information on the issues that the City Council plans to take to the Supreme Court.

After the City Council has repeatedly refused to allow an agenda item and public comment on the decision, the Election Commission scheduled a public dialogue for 4 p.m. on Nov. 1 in the City Council chambers. All City Council members and the public have been encouraged to attend by Election Commissioner Ward Hauenstein.

The announced focus of the dialogue will be the public release of anonymous ballots cast in the 2011 city election. Despite the recent 3-0 Court of Appeals ruling and the 12th Judicial District Court ruling clearly affirming voted ballots as public documents, the city is attempting to defy open records requests for 2011 ballots. Despite the ridiculous fear-mongering and red herrings concerning “data mining,” the public can hear from the election commissioners and election judges who have seen the 2011 ballots and can attest to their anonymity. Knowledgeable citizens can attest to the public policy benefits of data mining and independent tabulations of anonymous ballots and election results.

Citizens may ask questions and discuss, free from intimidation and filibustering by the mayor, why the Colorado constitution guarantees “anonymous ballots” – not “secret ballots.” Aspen officials seem to want to intimidate voters by implying that their ballots are “secrets” to be known by government officials, while the constitution bans such government “secrets,” and strips the government of the ability to collect personalized “secret” data by requiring that all ballots be anonymous. Their intention to collect and/or imply that they collect such “secrets” is at the heart of the debate.

As Bev Harris, founder of Black Box Voting, reminds us: “For an election to be democratic, the public must be able to see and authenticate the following:

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1) Who can vote (the voter list)

2) Who did vote (the participating voter list)

3) Chain of custody

4) The count

If the ballots are anonymous as required, the election can be verified by the citizens. Those who appear to have something to hide prefer to use the scare terms “secret ballots,” and “data mining,” instead of embracing the notions of full transparency and verifiability.

Look no farther than across Main Street to the “sunny side of the street,” in the current Pitkin County election processing. Ask any of the dozens of citizen judges processing ballots. The ballots are anonymous and no one can determine a voter’s identity. No “secrets” are necessary. Ask to be a watcher and go see ballots being processed and you will see for yourself the diligent safeguards taken to assure that ballots are anonymous and untraceable.

Please come to City Hall at 4 p.m. Nov. 1 and participate in the discussion.

Marilyn Marks

Aspen

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