-Aspen's historic May 5, 2009 IRV election audited as single ballots- 5/5/09 Aspen CO held an instant runoff election (IRV) for mayor and 2 council members. Interpreted contents of each ballot, scanned by True Ballot, were publicly released. Open records requests for a CD of image scans were denied. Aspen has been sued to protect records from destruction and to allow inspection of the scanned ballot files. A Court of Appeals ruling holds that unidentifiable ballots are public records.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Harvie Branscomb and Al Kolwicz: Guest opinion: Make computer files open to public

Harvie Branscomb and Al Kolwicz:

Guest opinion
Make computer files open to public
Harvie Branscomb and Al Kolwicz
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO

Part of a bipartisan team of election integrity experts, we are working on ways to increase transparency and independent verification of elections. We believe that more transparency and independent verification yields more voter confidence.

Over the years, we have served on the canvass board, the post-election audit team, and the logic and accuracy test team of numerous Colorado elections. We actively contribute to the development of Colorado election statutes and rules. We are each technically savvy. And, we are active contributors to both national and local election system improvement efforts.

This experience has taught us ways to improve and increase public confidence in the election system.

Aspen's May 5, 2009 election was unique in several important ways. It was Colorado's first instant runoff election (IRV). It was the first time that the computer-based TrueBallot vote interpretation and counting system was used in a Colorado public election. It was the first time that a Colorado election jurisdiction created a portable electronic file (TIF) containing the image of each ballot, and a separate portable file containing the interpretation of the ranking and vote on each ballot.

Aspen's data offers researchers a unique opportunity to analyze and report on ways to use increased transparency and independent verification in future elections. Areas of study will include post-election auditing, canvassing, and potential improvements in election statutes and rules.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Guest Editorial August 20, 2009 in Aspen Daily News Aspen IRV Election Review

The Citizens of Aspen are asking: whose election is this anyway? Does it belong to the government-- made up of the very officials who are candidates in each election? Or is it the people’s election? Apparently this question remains open in Aspen.

In an Aspen election, you see the stub which connects the ballot to you being removed before you cast your ballot. In case of mail-in you may trust an election judge to do this. Once the stub is removed no-one else can trace the ballot to you - including the City of Aspen election officials. But the City is claiming the law says they must keep the ballots secret to protect your privacy. Not so.

You alone might be able to recognize your own ballot from the way you have voted, if you remember the many rankings on your ballot. The protection of the anonymity of the ballot is demanded by the Colorado Constitution as the City has pointed out. If the City has counted any ballots containing identifying marks in any election, it has violated the law. Should the voters be able to learn whether this has happened? The City says you are not allowed to find out- by law. The City says trust: but don’t verify.