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Oversight vital to election transparency

Dear Editor:

2011’s city election seems a little too quiet. Hopefully, the candidates will stir interest and good voter turnout. Less than 50 percent of Aspen’s voters usually vote in city elections. Would 50 percent of the citizens in Libya, Egypt or Afghanistan casually pass up the hard-fought opportunity to participate in a fair, safe, democratic exercise in self-governance? Surely not.

Aspen voters go to the polls this year confident that stringent controls and fair processes will be implemented. Election commissioners Kathryn Koch, Ward Hauenstein and Bob Leatherman have worked hundreds of hours to re-craft our election regulations. The procedures are now robust and verifiable. The commissioners engaged Pitkin County’s election manager Dwight Shellman to help provide expert guidance and draft the legal language. Now it’s our turn as citizens to contribute to the process. Even the best designed controls fail if dedicated election judges are not available to implement those controls.

Clerk Koch has called for electors to serve as election judges on either May 2 or May 3. The city pays judges for the hours worked. All Colorado voters may serve – not just Aspen residents. The responsibilities of the judges have been undervalued in the past, but with enhanced election processes, recruiting vigilant judges is more important than ever. Please contact Deputy Clerk Kathy Strickland at (970) 429-2687 to sign up to be a judge.

You may also contribute to a quality election by volunteering with your candidate as a watcher, if you are a registered city voter. Watchers are granted authority to observe details of the election process and vote tabulation. Watchers have responsibility to challenge potential errors or ineligible voters. They can also help candidates “get out the vote” by referencing who has voted at the precincts on election day.

Giving a few hours to honor the democratic process and ensure that it remains fair is an unquestionably worthwhile investment. It is in the unique context of elections that the voters give instructions to the government, and the government must heed their masters, the public. The people themselves must conduct the elections and tell the government the results, not the other way around. Participate fully in the process of ensuring that the citizens’ voices are heard by volunteering a few hours of your time.

Aspen is now requiring identification of voters. Don’t forget to bring your I.D. to the polls.

Marilyn Marks

Aspen, CO


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