Intern rigged Aspen Times power house poll |

Intern rigged Aspen Times power house poll

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

If you’ve checked The Aspen Times online poll concerning the Old Power House candidates, you’ve noticed that the results are skewed in the Aspen Science Center’s favor — heavily.

As of Friday, the science center had garnered 33,570 votes for a question that asks the public who should move into the riverside building. A heavy turnout for a town of about 6,000 and an organization that has less than 750 Facebook followers. Coming in second is GrassRoots TV with 3,305 votes, followed by Aspen Brewing Co. with 1,401, the Red Brick with 253 and Paul Kienast with 144.

Included in the poll is the disclaimer that results are not scientific but more for entertainment, as there is no limit to the number of votes a site visitor can register. Science center board chairman Mike Simmons noted this fact Friday when describing how the amount grew. He said a group of high school interns with the organization wrote a computer-code script that registered repeated votes for an entire night.

When the organization learned of this, it asked the group to stop the script, he said. But that hasn’t stopped some readers and community members from crying foul.

“I understand (people took issue with the results), and at a certain stage we turned it off,” Simmons said. “We said, ‘Look, this is ridiculous.’ … (The students) demonstrated that it’s not a scientific poll.”

Simmons said the organization had no control over the stunt and that it learned of the escalating votes through word of mouth.

Red Brick Director Angie Callen said Friday that she’s not sure the poll will have much impact, if any, on the Aspen City Council’s decision for the space, which is expected Monday. However, she said it’s unfortunate that the poll was made to be essentially “a joke.”

“Obviously, they proved the point between what’s a scientific and an entertainment poll,” Callen said. “I just think it’s disappointing that it isn’t even close to legitimate anymore. It’s meaningless now.”

When the council discussed the five Power House applications Tuesday, council members said they would take a week to digest, then come to a decision. The council will have the option to pick one applicant to attempt to negotiate terms for the city-owned space, or it could narrow the field and reach a final decision later.

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