The meeting was very calm and reasonable and productive. The Commission decided to take in written complaints/compliments/suggestions by May 8 and looks like it will have a public brainstorming session sometime after that. The Commission primarily discussed how it would interface with the public, how it might help avoid any retribution for coming forward with complaints, and whether or not it would weigh in on the method of IRV voting or the choice of voting methods. Apparently one conclusion was to wait for a determination of what voting system would be used in the next election before further discussing IRV related details, but in the mean time to ask citizens to come forward with comments.
[Here are comments on the meeting by Elizabeth Milias, followed by an email sent by Harvie Branscomb to the Commission following the meeting.]
I found the following to be interesting points made at yesterday's meeting of Aspen's Election Commission:
• The "confidential memo" that outlines the EC's roles and responsibilities (as prepared by City Attorney John Worcester) remains confidential and privileged. The EC has received a copy, but its contents are not yet available to the public. It is up to Council to release this document to the public.
• The EC has determined that its individual members can have private meetings with citizens who wish to discuss election issues.
• The EC recognizes that there exists the potential for reprisals against citizens who bring forth election complaints and challenges, but the commission will not be part of this behavior.
• Citizens are welcome to write, call, present to, and lobby EC members regarding election issues, and despite Marilyn Marks being deemed "corrupt" for doing just this following the May 2009 election, this is now ok.
The following points were discussed as potential topic ideas for the 4/20/10 EC Worksession with Council:
• Civilized discourse
• No use of names when discussing how voters voted
• What is the EC's role in election reform?
• What are Council's expectations of the EC? What are the roles' parameters?
• Confirm with Council that this EC's term is legal until July 2011
• Get a commitment from Council that there will be a binding ballot issue on the November ballot on IRV
• Discuss/determine the auditing and certification process
• Debate using a hand-count for final/official tally of votes
I was personally very concerned with the EC's aversion to dealing with issues pertaining to IRV, instead wanting to wait until after the November election when IRV might be repealed. It seems that they realize what a mess the recent IRV election was and simply don't want to get involved if we change the law (as if Aspen's election problems will disappear if IRV does). Sadly, this means that they are not terribly inclined to dig into the past election, rather just look forward. The Clerk was particularly forceful in her efforts to "table" IRV issues until after November. She made many attempts to bring most of the election issues (Zimet complaint, Marilyn's issues, etc) under the IRV umbrella, however, the EC realized that several of these issues are not solely tied to IRV. There was also a strange aversion by the EC to having/taking any role in election reform efforts.
Another concern is the apparent willingness of the EC to look to Council for direction, rather than the other way around. This will play out at the work-session -- I hope I am wrong!
Sent: Friday, April 09, 2010 1:04 AM
To: 'John Worcester'; 'Jim True'; 'Kathryn Koch'; 'ward.hauenstein'; 'Bob Leatherman'
Subject: law that requires report of vote patterns
|31-10-617. Ranked voting methods.|
|(1) Notwithstanding any provision of this article to the contrary, a municipality may use a ranked voting method, as defined in section 1-1-104 (34.4), C.R.S., to conduct a regular election to elect the mayor or members of the governing body of the municipality in accordance with section 1-7-1003, C.R.S., and the rules adopted by the secretary of state pursuant to section 1-7-1004 (1), C.R.S.|
|(2) A municipality conducting an election using a ranked voting method may adapt the requirements of this article, including requirements concerning the form of the ballot, the method of marking the ballot, the procedure for counting ballots, and the form of the election judges' certificate, as necessary for compatibility with the ranked voting method.|
|Source: L. 2008: Entire section added, p. 1252, § 4, effective August 5.|
|1-7-1003. Conduct of elections using ranked voting methods - instant runoff voting - choice voting or proportional voting - reports.|
|(1) A ranked voting ballot shall allow an elector to rank as many choices as there are candidates. However, if the voting system cannot accommodate a number of rankings equal to the number of candidates, the designated election official may limit the number of choices an elector may rank to the maximum number allowed by the voting system; except that the number of choices shall not be less than three.|
|(2) A ranked voting ballot shall allow an elector to rank up to two write-in candidates. A vote for an unqualified write-in candidate shall not be considered a mark for a candidate.|
|(3) (a) In an election in which one candidate is to be elected to an office, the ranked voting method shall be known as instant runoff voting. The ballots shall be counted in rounds simulating a series of runoffs until two candidates remain or until one candidate has more votes than the combined vote total of all other candidates. The candidate having the greatest number of votes shall be declared the winner.|
|(b) In each round of counting ballots in an election using instant runoff voting, each ballot shall be counted as a vote for the remaining candidate ranked highest by the elector, and the candidate with the smallest number of votes shall be eliminated.|
|(c) If two or more candidates tie for the smallest number of votes, the candidate to eliminate shall be chosen by lot.|
|(4) In an election in which more than one candidate is to be elected to an office in a multiple-seat district or on a governing body that includes multiple at-large seats, a local government may conduct a ranked voting election using the single transferable vote method, in which a winning threshold is calculated based on the number of seats to be filled and the number of votes cast so that no more than the correct number of candidates can win. The ballots shall be counted in rounds, with surplus votes transferred from winning candidates and candidates with the fewest votes eliminated according to the methodology established by the secretary of state by rule, until the number of candidates remaining equals the number of seats to be filled. A local government may also conduct an election pursuant to this subsection (4) using the principles of instant runoff voting specified in subsection (3) of this section to ensure that each elector has equal voting power and that an elector's lower ranking of a candidate does not count against the candidate to whom the elector gave the highest rank.|
|(5) (a) In an election conducted using a ranked voting method, an explanation of ranked voting and instructions for electors in the form approved by the secretary of state by rule shall be posted at each polling place and included with each mail-in ballot.|
|(b) A local government that conducts an election using a ranked voting method shall conduct a voter education and outreach campaign to familiarize electors with ranked voting in English and in every language in which a ballot is required to be made available pursuant to this code and the federal "Voting Rights Act of 1965", 42 U.S.C. sec. 1973aa-1a.|
|(6) In an election using a ranked voting method, the election judges shall not count votes at the polling place but shall deliver all ballots cast in the election to the canvass board, which shall count the votes in accordance with this section and the rules adopted by the secretary of state pursuant to section 1-7-1004 (1).|
|(7) (a) For an election conducted using a ranked voting method, the designated election official shall issue the following reports:|
|(I) A summary report listing the total number of votes for each candidate in each round;|
|(II) A ballot image report listing for each ballot the order in which the elector ranked the candidates, the precinct of the ballot, and whether the ballot is a mail-in ballot; and|
|(III) A comprehensive report listing the results in the summary report by precinct.|
|(b) The secretary of state may by rule establish additional requirements for the reports issued pursuant to this subsection (7).|
|(c) Preliminary versions of the summary report and ballot image report shall be made available to the public as soon as possible after the commencement of the official canvass of the vote pursuant to subsection (6) of this section.|