Letter: Election investigation has some merit

The concerns voiced by Mary Kenyon about the Basalt election are valid points. In my experience as a member of the Election Commission in Aspen the same concerns have been voiced here, as well. My conclusion is that the intent of city officials is to make every effort to allow a person’s ballot to be counted. There are safeguards that are followed to ensure that the ballot being cast was submitted by the person it was sent to. There also are procedures that are followed to safeguard the anonymity of the voter. I believe the current trend is to make it as easy as possible to vote. In states that have acted to make it difficult to vote by requiring government-issued picture IDs, the prevailing conclusion is that these efforts are intended to limit minorities right to vote. I trust the system with reservations.

I like ballotplace voting. However, mail-in elections are less expensive to run. I think mail-in ballot elections offer many opportunities for voter fraud. In Aspen, two activists presented City Council with a bag full of ballots that were collected from the trash bin at a post office. A bag full of ballots certainly could swing an election. Election judges must verify each signature against a state-provided database. When I was on the Election Commission, the state was not required to provide the database to a municipality. Pitkin County always shared the state provided signature database with Aspen.

In Aspen, all of the complaints were considered in open meetings by the Election Commission. The end result was an improved election code. I suggest that Kenyon continue her efforts and to work closely with the town of Basalt to make a positive impact.

As an aside, in the three election cycles I served on the Election Commission, we disallowed only one ballot because of a signature discrepancy. In that case, the person who voted had a broken arm and signed with their other hand. The city clerk was unable to contact the person within the allotted time. It is quite important to have your contact information current when you cast a mail-in ballot.

Ward Hauenstein