A very bad election in a really good village | AspenTimes.com

A very bad election in a really good village

Roger Marolt

It would be really hard to actually rig an election in this country. We have too many opportunities to speak our minds for anything like that to happen. If someone is going to the polls and stuffing the box with ballots using phony drivers’ licenses with dead peoples names on them, someone is going to figure it out and write a letter to the editor, unless you live in a country that has a region like Siberia handy and all available winter clothing is made of cheap wool without Gortex lining in government factories instead of by The North Face and if the people raising votes from the dead have the power to ship you to such an inhospitable region if you dare to speak up. That’s a lot of “ifs.”

Ironically, it is the same power of free speech that prevents our elections from being able to be easily engineered that allows our elections to be steered. At first glance, an election that is influenced sounds as bad as an election that is rigged, but while the outcomes of each could be potentially disastrous, they are not nearly the same thing.

A rigged election comes at the hands of tyrants, while the influenced election is freely decided by fools who allow themselves to be lied to and who are too lazy to do a minimal amount of studying on the issues and the statements made by the candidates that would most likely reveal the obvious truth.

Steering an election can be done by lying, and lying is protected, in most cases, under the tenets of free speech and, so, politicians lie and we know it, and if they can sneak a few fictions as facts past us and earn our vote in the process, who are you going to blame?

All said, there are possible exceptions. Could a national election in the United States be rigged? That’s doubtful. Could a local election in a town of a couple thousand voters be set up to produce an outcome that goes against the will of the people legally entitled to vote there in the grand spirit of free elections and respect for the process? I think so.

I look back on the Base Village approval election through which voters, by a razor-thin margin, awarded Aspen Skiing Co. a free pass to all building codes and zoning laws on their supposed way to constructing the largest mass of timeshares this town will never see in exchange for what I’ll never know. We basically approved development anarchy for them.

There were the allegations that Skico shuffled the leases in the employee housing they owned in the village to temporarily remove the tenants who were not eligible to register to vote and filled them with allies who would qualify. It was trading housing for votes. If true, was there anything wrong with this? Of course there was! This is not to say it was illegal.

Then there was the re-registering of second-home owners. Although I never saw them, I know trustworthy people who said they were “asked” by the homeowners associations who employed them to circulate memos outlining the step-by-step process of re-registering to vote from the places people lived to this place where they spent winter break and the Forth of July in. They justified this by saying they were property owners, which was the equivalent of resident status in their minds, and completely ignored the fact that, by this reasoning, Russian mafia members owning two weeks at The Snowmass Club could justifiably vote here, too.

I’m not alleging widespread corruption here. I am only alleging enough corruption to subvert the will of the Village People that resulted in the decade dormant monstrous construction catastrophe formerly touted as the Renaissance of Snowmass and now known as Baseless Village, The Whim of Jim, or The Crowning Blow.

It will never be known if an eency weency bit of playing fast and loose with the election rules and only a little disrespect for the voting process resulted in the mess created with the best intentions that is the only center of town our children ever knew growing up here. All we know for sure is that Skico hasn’t hosted a single free beer party for the town since that fateful election so many years ago and the community pumpkin carving parties and Easter egg hunts are things of the past. The first person to spot Jim Crown in town ought to win a million dollars.

Roger Marolt wonders if Aspen Skiing Co. would ship him to Siberia in a Helly Hanson snowsuit. Email at roger@maroltllp.com

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