Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Do mail-in elections and instant runoff voting erode confidence in Aspen elections?

A writer from Pitkin Co Colorado says that though mail-in elections and instant runoff voting are touted as cost savers, they erode the creditability of elections. More is less.

For a return to traditional elections (LTE)


I have real concerns regarding mail-in elections.

I think many people feel the same way. You have to put your legal signature on the outside of the envelope. In this time of identity theft that seems ridiculous.

In the case of the hospital election we are being asked to vote to continue a mill levy on our property taxes as well as choosing hospital board members. We are to send out ballots to the hospital. I absolutely do not question Nell Strijbos-Arthur’s integrity but in general should election ballots be collected by the entity that will benefit from a positive outcome? The fire district election is for board members only, but that is certainly important as well and those ballots go to the fire district.

During the last general election I took my ballot to the Pitkin County clerk’s office and asked to put it in the ballot box. I was denied that right because my signature (on the outside of the envelope, arrgghh!) needed to be verified prior to the ballot going into the box. Since they didn’t want to do that while I waited, it was put in a pile of other ballots. I couldn’t believe it. I wrote a letter to the clerk with my concerns and received no response, although there was an article in the paper that sort of explained the “process.”

I realize that mail-in elections and IRV are attempts at curbing the cost of elections, but don’t you feel the credibility of elections is being eroded? Ballots are found in the trash in post offices. Can we really expect that signatures can be absolutely verified? We are giving away our civic responsibility to show up and vote to a process that purports to get more people to vote, but are they sure they are the legitimate voters? At least when you go the polls to vote, you sign a card, show your picture identification in front of a sworn election judge, and you are serious about voting because you made the effort. Of course, there have always been absentee ballots, but you had to apply for one, and bring it to the clerk, it felt more legit.

I am for a return to traditional elections with judges, voting machines, the chance to see neighbors and friends, and getting to wait a little bit for the results. It was much more exciting and fair and American.

Valerie Braun
Woody Creek

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