Lum: The tedium of democracy |

Lum: The tedium of democracy

Su Lum

Since I can’t stand for any useful period of time, my job for the effort to stop the Base2 lodge is to compare the computerized voting lists with the names and addresses written on the actual petitions.

One would think that this would be a simple task. After all, Aspen has been deemed second in education and intelligence only to the scientific mecca of Los Alamos, New Mexico, so how difficult could it be for the creme de la creme — the registered voters of Aspen — to write their names, their addresses and the date on a sheet of paper?

Was I in for a surprise!

The first petition I picked up looked as if very small, ink-footed animals had been scurrying up, down and across the page.

The written signatures were unintelligible swirls, while the printed versions were only marginally more legible. Bright lights and magnifiers were employed. That failing, I turned to the addresses to try to match them with what I guessed were the letters the last name of the signer might start with.

I wondered if the city clerk would be that diligent when officially verifying the signatures. The duplication of effort seemed like a waste, but “government efficiency” has always been an oxymoron.

There are a few rules that the petition-gatherers should be given from the start — above and beyond the legal mumbo-jumbo that they are supposed to read. These rules should include but not be limited to the following:

The parameters of the people who may sign the petitions. In the case of Base2, signatures are limited to registered city of Aspen voters. Not the county, not Snowmass, not Basalt. City voters — only voters who are registered in the city.

You can’t sign your own petition — sign someone else’s.

Don’t take your petition packet apart to make it easier to handle. Ask not why; just don’t do it.

Check that the signer has dated the entry and check the printed entry to see if you can decipher it. If not, ask the signer for clarification and make a marginal note for the verifiers who are down the road.

When you have gotten as many signatures as humanly possible, get the packet notarized. Have you noticed it’s not easy to find a notary these days? I thought they went out with eight-track tapes. Banks have them. (Note: Ward Hauenstein says that Tara Nelson, on the second floor of City Hall, will notarize them for free and says that after getting your petitions notarized, don’t turn them in to the city — give them to him.)

By the way, the voter lists contain quite a few names of people I know to have moved away or expired long ago, so I’d be a bit skeptical of any new reports saying what a small percentage of registered voters turned out for this or that election. This isn’t a complaint, just an observation — it’s hard to keep up in a resort town.

Most important is that all of you who haven’t gotten around to signing the petition, do it now. Volunteers with petitions will be at City Market from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every day, or you can come by my place (call 970-925-7839), or Ward Hauenstein (970-925-9159) will see that a petition is delivered to you.

Get out and sign, and then get out and vote.

Su Lum is a longtime local who wrote her name on the print line. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at

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