-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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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Branscomb Responds to Critics of His Aspen Times Letter

Harvie's well written letter ( posted below)  received an ill-considered response from an anonymous Aspen blogger,  calling himself "We Deserve Better."  Among other things "We" writes:
"Unlike Harvie Branscomb, who seems to have a real problem with facts and objectivity, the vast majority of Aspen voters understand what's going on with the Marks self- promotion tour.
For the record, Mark's election reform efforts are self-serving, anything but "heroic", selfish and clearly the rantings of a sore loser, in my opinion. Wrapping the Marks election reform

efforts in a cloak of legitimacy doesn't fool anyone, which is why her efforts have gained zero traction in our community. No surprise, really.
Now let's wait to see what the DA's office has to say, and Judge Boyd. Want a prediction? Nothing will come of either effort except for another large legal bill from the City of Aspen to Marks for her frivolous legal actions. Want to make a wager Mr. Branscomb??"
and writing about me, (Marilyn),  that "NO ONE in this town has found anything you write about election reform to be the least bit compelling. Not one single vote has come your way from various City Council decisions. The City Attorney disagrees with all your frivolous claims. Judge Boyd threw out the case without a hearing as without merit. I predict the DA's office will do the same. Judge Boyd refused to reconsider.
Are you seeing a trend here?
So now Marks appeals the CORA case. Good luck. Win or lose, you're a loser!!"
Harvie has tried to reason with this ill-informed but close-minded blogger  and "civic leader" ("We")  for about a year, to no avail.  Harvie responded on the AT site with this very direct and inarguable response:
There is no point addressing blogger “wedeservebetter”, whom I will not be able to reach with any argument whether well stated or not. For others who are willing to discuss and still have an open mind (although from we's pessimistic pronouncement we might conclude there are none of these people left in Aspen) I offer this:

As my letter states, citizen oversight and involvement in elections is good public policy. I now know that Aspen desperately needs a lot more of this kind of good public policy. What I have learned in one year+ of unpaid voluntary effort is this: citizen oversight in and around Aspen is too expensive in time and precious cash and on top of that it is blocked by hidden structural obstacles - thus Aspen voters are unlikely to know whether or not their election is of high quality.

Marilyn Marks and I have tested the various available means to investigate and comment upon Aspen's 2009 municipal election, and we have looked for means to obtain remedies for the failures and omissions we found, or failures and omissions that found us. I have personally looked for ways to reinforce the unique positive qualities of some portions of the election that I found. None of this has been successful due in part to a suffocating context of bitter and sarcastic personal attacks dealt out ironically in parallel by citizen and city leaders alike- among whom I count some of the present company (wedeservebetter, for one).

What “we” has utterly failed to comprehend is that it doesn't matter whether Marilyn is smart or dumb, self serving or altruistic, winner or loser. Anyone, yes anyone- even the biggest jerk in town - has a right and a responsibility to make sure elections are of high quality. But I am sure even a saint in Aspen (were one to arrive by accident) would be rebuffed and ridiculed for asking about the May 5 2009 election. I am aware what I am saying is a dismal and pessimistic conclusion- but the evidence for it cannot be denied.
Events have shown that the city council is unresponsive, except when its power is questioned... an election commission has been rendered powerless... the city attorneys have clear conflicts of interest of which they claim to be unaware... the Secretary of State has no jurisdiction over Aspen's elections... the DA is apparently so close to the city that it's private matters are available for leakage to city attorneys... the press cannot recognize promotional propaganda even when sources are literally incredible (such as a ~$500/hr criminal lawyer under contract to defend the city from criticism).

What these things (and many more that are left unstated) mean- is - bluntly- Aspen is not a place where elections can be assumed to be of high quality. Furthermore Aspen is not a place where the means of obtaining election improvements (council, commission, SOS, DA, legislature) are likely to function. Worst of all is that Aspen's citizens fail to recognize how far from ideal things are... leaving all but the rare wonks amongst us in a position to try to make corrections through mechanisms that are unfortunately designed or operated to fail to serve the public. If that was not enough, we have wedeservebetter and his friends trying to stop the few of us who are willing - such as Marilyn and myself - from seeking better public policy.
Harvie Branscomb

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