Guest commentary: Supporting Aspen’s 2A is a start, group says
September 23, 2018
We believe a "yes" vote on ballot initiative 2A to change Aspen's local election day will result in more voter participation, a more representative government and strong support for and defense of our democratic system.
Thanks to a successful petition campaign, a question now known as 2A asking to move Aspen's election date from May to March, will appear on the ballot this November.
We are grateful for all those that aided in this effort. Thank you to petition leaders Wendle Whiting, Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, former Councilman Art Daily, AYPA President Ashley Feddersen, and Planning and Zoning Chair Skippy Mesirow. Thank you to our supporters —old, young, left, right, business owners, and workers. White, black, Hispanic, LGBTQ, straight, women and men. Those who have been here since the founding, and those recently arrived. Thank you to the 89.1 percent of the 442 registered Aspen voters who agreed in a poll that changing the election day is a good idea, and to those who gave us guidance by a 2-1 margin to select March as the final choice of a new election day. In the most recent Aspen Times poll conducted, respondents signaled their approval of the move by a nearly 73 percent to 27 precent margin.
At a time when political division is rife, and democratic norms and principles are challenged, we are proud to live in a community willing to stand up for every citizen's right to vote. Holding local elections in May, a time of the year when the fewest voters are in town accomplishes the opposite of that. Changing the date to the first Tuesday in March better ensures fuller participation of our entire community.
In the last U.S. Census, roughly 7,000 residents called Aspen home. Of those, nearly 6,000 are eligible to vote. In the 2007 mayoral race, 2,136 votes were cast; in the race for council in 2015, only 1,989 ballots were cast. The 2013 runoff garnered only 1,753. These numbers show that most Aspen residents are not engaged with their representatives.
Moving the voting date to March is about enfranchising citizens who are currently disenfranchised. That's it, nothing more. With greater voter turnout, we can realize a better, fuller democracy, rebuild trust in our system through shared involvement, and set an example for the rest of the country. Voter suppression, whether intentional or accidental, is not something any community should be proud of, least of all the birthplace of the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Idea.
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Aspen Citizens for Democracy has a long-term goal of seeing Aspen become the first city in America with 100 percent voter turnout. Moving the voting date is no silver bullet, but it's a good start.
Vote "yes" on 2A to change the voting date in November and be part of building a stronger democracy.
To be part of this critical change, email us at AspenElection Fairness@gmail.com
This guest commentary was sent by the group Aspen Citizens for Democracy.