Lost election? Do it again!

Matt Zalaznick
April 14, 2005

A few folks in Vail want a do-over.

Because they can't look into their crystals balls and see business booming at the conference center, they want to go back to the polls and squash a project that voters already approved.

This could be an American epidemic - hyperactive democracy. If things turn a little sour the first time, vote and vote again. Cover us from head-to-toe with those little "I Voted" stickers.

Town councils may be permitted second readings at which to reaffirm or reconsider a decision, but more than one election on the same question is a dangerous trend.

For one thing, voting will lose a little of its luster if voters, if they don't like their choice, get a second chance.

Regarding the conference center, some argue that the voters were ill-informed the first time. But knowing there's probably going to be a do-over is even less incentive to get educated on the issues. And once one casts a second ballot, who's to guarantee there won't be a third or a fourth?

Voters can only be so informed. To some in Vail, the standard of awareness seems to be having already built, planned and run a conference center - if not outright clairvoyance that if we build it, the conventioneers will come.

Besides, the voters already understood the concept and the risks, which is bad news for the little band that hasn't yet met a project it liked. The plan to collect the lodging and sales tax for the center was approved.

You know, at least half the country would have liked to vote again in the 2000 presidential election, too. Somehow, the republic survived.

Voters, finally, have to do a little thinking for themselves. The rather self-serving argument that the voters didn't know what they were doing when they approved this project is frankly silly. From an advocate or public official's point of view, the voters never know what they are voting on. Unless, of course, they vote the "right" way.

If the voters were too dumb to see the light on the first ballot, what's to guarantee they won't do something stupid the second time? Or be really dumb the other way?

If we're going to trust ourselves with the awesome power of voting, then we also have to live with our decisions. Not make the same ones again and again if the losers aren't quite satisfied. That's just another definition of indecision, which the minority naysayers are aiming for anyway. Isn't going on three years of the Vail Town Council's inability to move forward quite enough in the indecision department?

Democracy is about choice, but choice is a serious responsibility. And, at least in this country, voting has the consequence of being a decision. Like it or not.

Whether by landslide or whisker, the voters have spoken. Now it's up to the Town Council to act.

If the people have a problem with the council's decisions, well, they have a remedy. They can change council members. At the next election.