Release the ballots, now | AspenTimes.com

Release the ballots, now

Dear Editor:

Why is the City Council stepping all over themselves to cause the voting public to be suspicious and wonder what they are hiding?

Most voters were completely befuddled by IRV vote-counting algorithms, and couldn’t begin to explain how their vote was tallied. But most trusted that the election judges would perform a hand-count test, and audit the results, and as confounding as IRV is, the election would still be verified.

But now, voters are wondering why the city is insisting on hiding away the very ballot images they proudly projected on big screens election night, touting their new transparency tools – and rightly so. And oops, that “manual verification of all rankings” the city reported the staff did was imagined, not real. Announced just a few days after the time for any election contest had closed, the city belatedly disclosed a computer program error and miscount. The delay created no incentive for any defeated candidates to request further testing since the results were then final. And then the transparency began to turn to more than a bit cloudy.

The city has given ever-changing peculiar legal positions on why they can’t allow the public to have a copy of the CD with the anonymous ballot images. The most bizarre was Mayor Mick Ireland’s argument that we must protect the privacy of those voters who may have purposely marked their ballots in an identifiable way. Given that all forms of marking a ballot to identify later is a crime, it is a shocker that Mick wants to protect the bad guys rather than creating transparency for the public.

Two weeks ago, council was advised that the Home Rule Charter can trump Colorado Sunshine Laws to avoid disclosing ballot images. While that is doubtful, does council really want to pull the shades down on the Sunshine laws, just because their lawyer says they can?

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Now they claim that the ballots are secret, private and it would be unlawful to show such ballots. Horse feathers! Those ballots were voted in private, and their anonymity maintained throughout the process. The pieces of paper themselves are not secret – otherwise they couldn’t get counted in the first place! Enough silly arguments from the city trying to find snippets of convoluted law and throw enough against the wall until something sticks, hoping to make those “transparency advocate troublemakers” go away. The sillier the arguments, the more suspicion you are creating among a once-trusting public.

Quit throwing up smokescreens, and remember your transparency commitments and release the anonymous ballot images.

Larry Winnerman

Aspen

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