One dozen excuses
December 28, 2009
Mayor Ireland just sent an intriguing e-mail to the “voting rights community” titled “Why we don’t need your help in running our elections and why a recount is not needed.” It probably wasn’t written to amuse, given the personal attacks in it, but recipients surely chuckled.
Here is my list of the city’s most creative excuses for avoiding an independent review or any other “intrusion” by pesky outsider election specialists into Aspen’s May election:
1. All 2,544 ballot images were flashed on the closed-circuit TV screens for a few seconds each. Citizens had their chance to see them once, but it’s illegal to see them twice.
2. Once the ballots and the CD containing ballot scans are locked away, the locked box cannot be opened unless we say so, as we did two days after the election. We keep the key. We decide.
3. Ballots could have been marked in a pay-for-votes scheme. It would be irresponsible to expose the evidence by releasing ballot images. Any such criminal activity is best kept confidential.
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4. Election-integrity advocates are destructive nitpickers! Although the pre-election software test tabulated the candidate with the fewest votes as the winner, 15 hours was plenty of time to reconfigure the software before the polls opened.
5. Another last-minute software adjustment caused a tabulation error, but voter confidence was preserved by waiting 10 days after discovery to tell the public. Disclosure would have encouraged a recount, only confusing the voters.
6. Those hand counts we repeatedly promised would have been too much trouble, and inaccurate! Besides, we sort of tested the tabulation software before modifying it.
7. The review is merely a “recount” demanded by a sore loser. The election resulted in a mandate. The voters are satisfied. Don’t confuse them.
8. An audit would expose the fact that neither Derek Johnson nor Torre got the votes of the majority of voters our charter requires. Citizens don’t need to fret about “majority” requirements.
9. We dismissed the volunteer election commissioners, who could have supported a review, because they asked for outside legal advice, rather than accepting our attorney’s opinion that they were ceremonial. Two commissioners illegitimately held a “private meeting” to discuss how to hold a public meeting. Secret meetings are the prerogative of the government. Closed-door meetings help us openly discuss sensitive topics like how to spend $200,000 in marketing funds, and what duties and loyalties we must demand of election commissioners.
10. The early voting ballot box at City Hall, accumulating 32 percent of the votes, was sometimes unlocked. Why audit these ballots now? Any possible mischief already happened. An audit now would be meaningless.
11. Let the local press investigate instead. If they find a problem, we’ll let them know whether it is worth reporting.
12. If the voters cared about election integrity, they would have long ago done something about it.
The arguments are getting stranger by the day. The mayor’s e-mail to activists is available at http://aspenelectionreview.blogspot.com.