November 4, 2011

Bill Nemitz: Mayoral vote easy as 1-2-3. Or not …

By Bill Nemitz bnemitz@pressherald.com
Columnist

(Continued from page 1)

MORE ABOUT PORTLAND'S MAYORAL RACE

You can learn more about all the candidates in the Portland Mayor Race 2011 special section.

Marks, insisting she wasn't a sore loser, went on to sue the city over its refusal to let her examine electronic copies of each and every ballot cast in the election. Just this fall, the Colorado Court of Appeals overturned a lower-court ruling and agreed with Marks that the digitized images are in fact public records.

Marks also claims the 2009 election was rife with errors and malfunctions. TrueBallot's Kleppner counters that Marks, a thorn in his company's side if ever there was one, doesn't know what she's talking about.

But here's the takeaway: A year ago this week, the good citizens of Aspen had no difficulty achieving a majority on whether to keep ranked-choice voting. Sixty-five percent voted to scuttle it.

(For the record, the same thing happened in Burlington, Vt., where ranked-choice voting for mayor was tried once in 2009 and then got the heave-ho in 2010.)

Marks actually emailed municipal officials here in Portland back in May to warn that her city's experience was "nothing short of disastrous."

But City Hall spokeswoman Clegg insists that if all goes according to plan, whatever may or may not have happened out there won't happen here.

"I think we have spent a lot of time trying to anticipate anything that could happen," Clegg said. "We've invested a lot of time and energy into developing rules. We've spent a lot of time on voter education to make sure people know how to complete the ballot."

She can say that again. When Kleppner came to City Hall earlier this fall to explain to the media and others how the system works, he transformed the long list of candidates into so many fictional superheroes to explain who conquers whom – and how.

Not to be outdone, WCSH-TV's Caroline Cornish deftly laid out the process this week with an assist from her collection of Beanie Babies.

All of which portends that this will be anything but a ho-hum election. We're talking political theater here – and possibly a marathon performance at that.

"It depends on turnout. It depends on how smoothly things go," said Kleppner. "But I certainly hope I'm not having dinner in City Hall."

Maybe I should bring Raisinettes.

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:

bnemitz@mainetoday.com

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