Give IRV a chance
October 30, 2009
Nothing is simple when it comes to holding an election in Aspen.
Even this week, we saw the nixing of a ballot question on a local marketing district because of a snafu with the mail-in ballots. We also heard former City Councilman Jack Johnson fire off a litany of allegations against members of the Aspen Election Commission, claiming they brushed off open-meeting laws.
And now we have an advisory question on the mail-in ballots to gauge whether Aspen residents want to continue with instant runoff voting (IRV) elections.
The question comes after IRV’s May debut in Aspen’s mayoral and City Council contests, which spawned a number of critics who said the process was poorly administered and lacked a full-blown audit of the results.
All it took was one date with IRV for a portion of the Aspen electorate to get queasy.
But consider the alternatives, should IRV be canned.
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We could do the simple winner-take-all election, which could result in the seating of officials who garnered less than 50 percent of the vote. There also could be the June runoff election, which a majority of Aspen voters sought to avoid by enacting IRV.
Some argue the June runoff is a good thing because it gives voters more time to learn about the candidates.
We don’t buy the argument. If voters haven’t done their homework by the May election, it’s presumptuous to argue they would do so for the June runoff. The result of a runoff is more time, money and brain damage. And let’s not forget that the top vote-getters in May elections have all gone on to triumph in redundant June runoffs.
There is no perfect way to hold the city elections, but we feel voters need to give IRV at least one more chance. We’ve only been through one election, and IRV was put to the test with a nine-candidate field vying for two City Council seats.
Aspen voters approved IRV in November 2007, and here we are, two years later, already talking about canning it.
Aspen residents will never agree about everything, especially when it comes to local elections. But before we run IRV out of town on a rail, we suggest Aspen residents give IRV a stay of execution, and vote for its continuance.
And don’t forget this is a mail-only election, so look for your ballot in the mail and send it back to the clerk.