-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, May 1, 2010

Election Integrity Activist LaBonte Supports Election Commission Review of Zimet Complaint

From: Mike LaBonte Date: Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 2:40 PM  Subject: Regarding the Zimet complaint

To: Kathryn.Koch;  Ward Hauenstein  Robert Leatherman
Hello Election Commissioners,
I have read the recent letter to you from Millard Zimet at http://www.glassballotbox.org/storage/Zimet4.29Complaint.pdf.   As an outsider to Aspen I would like to point out that while the topic of ballot anonymity may be discussed relatively rarely, it is widely regarded as one of the founding principles of how we vote in modern times. Practices such as inspecting ballots for legal compliance and shuffling them are in general either codified or taken for granted, although some election officials may mistakenly depend too much on their optical scanners and ballot boxes to perform some degree of randomization. Adopting a strong protocol for maintaining ballot anonymity would not only be a good practice, indeed, Aspen voters like all other voters certainly must already expect that their ballots can not be traced back to them, not even by election workers. Otherwise who would vote?

One reason anonymity is important is that it enables ballot level transparency. I hope that Aspen will continue to support transparency, preferably achieving full transparency by releasing ballot images. So far relatively few locations have done so, usually due to the cost of scanning. Aspen is being watched by election integrity advocates nationally. For example, news of Aspen elections has appeared in 55% of the 221 editions of Voting News (http://votingnews.blogspot.com), a popular daily compendium of all election integrity related news from both major news outlets and blogs in the United States since July 14, 2009. Aspen has an opportunity to show leadership in the area of good election practices, including transparency.
Since 2005 I have served on the Board of Registrars of Voters in Haverhill, MA, but I write to you only in my role as an election integrity activist and electrical engineer. I have lectured on election methods, and have advocated IRV. I appreciate Aspen's transparency in releasing the election data files used by TrueBallot to tally the IRV-style races from May 5, 2009. Using the same ChoicePlus Pro software used by TrueBallot and those files I was able to reproduce the Aspen election results from 2009, and also to test some hypothetical alternate scenarios such as the effects of increased bullet voting.
If there is interest I would be happy to provide technical assistance to anyone who would like to install the free ChoicePlus Pro software and try it for themselves. It would be best for Aspen election officials to have an understanding of the software used for their elections, rather than leaving that part of the process entirely to TrueBallot employees. For example, additional eyes might have caught the error of mistakenly using Cambridge rules. But one must understand the input file format to do this.
Mike LaBonte

Haverhill, MA

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