Aspen's ready for Instant Runoff Voting
An Aspen Times Editorial

Published August 24th 2007 in The Aspen Times
The procedural details of Instant Runoff Voting may be confusing, but we think the basic concept must be put before Aspen voters as soon as possible. We urge the City Council to proceed at its Monday meeting to approve ballot language for a fall election.

It's been less than three months since Aspen's June runoff election, but already memories are fading. So, to briefly recap, Mick Ireland bested Tim Semrau for mayor, and Steve Skadron won over Toni Kronberg for an open council seat. In both races, the June results mirrored the tallies from the first election in May. As in several prior elections - 2001, 2003 and 2005 - the runoff contests served only to confirm the results from the original election. Moreover, voter participation dropped and everyone - candidates included - was sick and tired of the whole affair by the end.

Instant Runoff Voting, or IRV, offers an alternative. Simply put, Aspen voters would no longer be asked to cast votes twice on the same race. Using multiple counts of the same ballots, election clerks could determine the first- and second-highest vote-getters without the cost and hassle of a second election.

City council members are considering now whether to place an instant runoff question on the November ballot, but Monday night they hesitated because of the confusing details of the actual ballot-counting procedure. Council members' reluctance is understandable, but we don't see any advantage to waiting.

The decision before the council now is not which exact counting method to choose; it is merely whether to place language on the November ballot. The exact instant-runoff method can be pinned down later.

We believe Aspenites want an IRV system to replace the cumbersome and costly way we've done it for the past six years. They should be allowed to decide this matter while the 2007 election is fresh in their minds.

The details of the new system - like the details of pothole repair, tax collection, parking enforcement and other city functions - can be left to city officials. That's what we elect them to do.