Input, please

Dear Editor:

What are your post-election thoughts about Instant Run-off Voting used for the first time in Aspen on May 5? Please share your opinions in an anonymous online survey. The results are also online and will be sent to City Council and the Election Commission. Please find the easy, multiple choice survey at It takes five minutes or less to complete ” probably less time than completing that May 5 ballot! Some interesting election statistics are also posted on the site.

While I tried to make the survey as objective as possible, I’ve publicly opposed IRV since fall 2007. I dislike substituting the more deliberative process for “instant” results. Despite my interest in Aspen civic affairs, quite frankly, with 13 candidates running for office, I was not responsibly informed enough to make the decisions I did in that voting booth on council candidates, although I know all of the candidates personally.

Choosing our city’s leadership for four years is a responsibility that, at least for me, requires more information and understanding gained only when the field is narrowed, and substantive dialogue can be concentrated, just as our primaries do for national elections. Imagine trying to choose a president or senator with nine serious candidates on the slate. But, in fairness, I don’t like “instant coffee” or “instant mashed potatoes” either.

The choice of a ballot tabulation algorithm where likely less than 10 Aspen voters can explain how the winner is determined is also cause for concern. The process of ranked voting (particularly in a two-seat race) created voter confusion and a significant drop-off in voter participation in the run-off process. For example, 35 percent of the voters ranked three or less council candidates, taking the risk that he or she (the voter) would not vote in the instant “run-off.” Traditional run-offs did not see such a loss of voters in the past. Few people, other than mathematical geniuses, can explain why the “Compromise Batch Elimination” formula calculated Torre as the winner, while the almost adopted “Sequential Elimination” formula would have named Adam Frisch as the winner. When a voting system requires a mathematician to understand it, it’s probably the wrong system, in my view.

However, those who appreciate the system that 70 percent of Aspenites wanted should weigh in as well. It’s a grand debate to have while our experience is still fresh.

As for the promise that IRV would save taxpayer money and increase participation, I believe that the facts will demonstrate that the opposite was the case.

Thank you again for the opportunity you gave me to run for elected office. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life.

Marilyn Marks