It was a tiny election in the scheme of things. Only 2,544 votes were cast on a quiet May day in 2009. But over three years later, the ballots in the 2009 mayoral race remain at issue, their photographic images locked up in a court fight which may cost taxpayers well over $200,000 if the winner takes all. What has this squabble over ballot inspection proven so far? In the short run, we proved to ourselves that instant runoff voting produced enough of a stink that we booted it. The procedure, run here by a Maryland firm, was supposed to simulate a runoff if no one won a majority. When we learned that there were multiple ways for guessing how people would vote, we decided that an actual runoff beat one run by a computer program. But that race had another by-product. It produced a court battle that seemed rooted in a clash of egos.
Round One goes to Marilyn Marks, who lost the 2009 election narrowly to Mayor Mick Ireland, but has widened her scope of interest to probe possible irregularities in elections across the state. By eventually winning the right to inspect ballot images from 2009, she also embarrassed City Hall by suggesting that its Powers That Be were more interested in beating Marks than they were in the electoral process.
That’s the part that may cost us the $200K. After the city denied Marks’ bid to inspect the ballots, a district court judge in March 2010 upheld City Hall, which had suggested that ballot secrecy laws might be violated because the ballots, through bar-coding and other auditing procedures, could reveal how some had voted.
Full Article: Sunshine and the ego | Aspen Daily News Online.