Colorado Common Cause honors democracy champions

Colorado Common Cause held its Champions for Democracy lunch today in Denver, attracting members and others interested in Colorado civics. From left to right, attorney Scott Martinez, Amber McReynolds, executive director of National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition, Roy Wardell, who joined the national Common Cause organization when it was founded in 1970, and Amanda Gonzalez, the executive director of Colorado Common Cause. (SOS photo)

A 77-year-old man who was a charter member of Common Cause when it formed in 1970 became emotional today when he was honored by the Colorado chapter of the grassroots organization.

Roy Wardell, who now lives in Platteville, was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin in 1970 when he saw an ad in the Capital Times about being a “member of the people’s lobby.” And so he signed up.

Since then, Wardell has served on the board of Common Cause in Minnesota and in Colorado, starting in 2009 through the beginning of this year.

“I am so proud of what Common Cause does,” Wardell said, when he gained his composure. “Don’t miss a chance to support the kind of work Common Cause does.”

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Secretary Williams spends National Voter Registration Day with Angels

Secretary of State Wayne Williams speaks to students at East High School in Denver today as a part of National Voter Registration Day. (SOS photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams paid a visit to a Denver’s East High School today as part of National Voter Registration Day, where Inspire Colorado and New Era Colorado, organizations dedicated to getting young people to vote, hosted a voter registration drive.

“Colorado is the state that has the highest percentage of registered voters in the United States of America,” Williams told students, which resulted in the crowd erupting with cheers.

Secretary Wayne Williams was presented with an East High School Angels shirt from senior Michael Ankner, center, and Principal John Youngquist, right. (SOS photo)

Currently, there are 3.2 million active voters in Colorado, according to figures collected by the Secretary of State’s office through August. September’s numbers are expected to be released next week.

Michael Ankner, 2018’s National Eagle Scout of the year and an Inspire student leader at East, told his peers about his recent trip to Mongolia and that the ability to vote there is scarce.

“I want you to know how important it is to participate in our democratic processes and how it really does help improve the way our government functions and makes things better for everyone,” Ankner said.

Members of the East Angels soccer team proudly show off their National Voter Registration Day stickers. Left to right are Itza Lasso-Karner, Marko Babiak, Zion Wagoner and Kevin Salgado. (SOS photo)

The National Association of Secretaries of State in 2012 designated September as National Voter Registration Month with the fourth Tuesday in September set as National Voter Registration Day to encourage voter participation and increase awareness about state requirements and deadlines for voting.

Williams challenged the students to register, enticing them with the Eliza Pickrell Routt award, given to high schools where at least 85 percent of eligible seniors register to vote.

“One of the things I want to do is come back here when you reach the 85 percent of registered seniors because if you do that, you will join a number of other high schools in getting the Eliza Pickrell Routt award,” Williams said. “I challenge you to reach that level. It is how we make a difference in this world.”

Colorado Secretary of State efforts to boost voter registration include:

Text to vote. Eligible Coloradans can simply text the word “Colorado” or “CO” to “2Vote” (28683) on their smartphones, and then open the link to the SOS online voter registration and election information site.

Online registration. Colorado in 2010 became the fourth state to allow online voter registration and has processed more than 2 million transactions.

High School registration. The office hands out the Eliza Pickrell Routt award to high schools where at least 85 percent of eligible seniors have registered or preregistered to vote.

Wayne Williams hits the road again

Secretary of State Wayne Williams stands at the top of Molas Pass, 10,910 feet, in the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado this week, where he was visiting county clerks.  (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visited three southwestern counties this week to check in with clerks prior to this year’s midterm elections to see if they needed any help from his office.

Williams thanked the clerks for heading to the Denver metro area earlier this month to attend a training exercise called EPIC — Election Preparedness for Infrastructure and Cybersecurity. National and state cybersecurity officials attended the event, where clerks and county officials handled various Election Day scenarios thrown at them.

Ben Schler, the Secretary of State’s legal and policy manager, accompanied Williams on the trip. Schler, who grew up on a farm just outside of Durango, said he was happy to see the fall colors and to “make sure that we provide the clerks with the support they need.”

This week’s deadline for the clerks: Military and overseas ballots must go out by Saturday.

The secretary and Schler met with clerks in San Juan, San Miguel and Alamosa counties.

“I made a commitment when I  first ran for this office to visit every county every two years. So far, we have hit 61 counties in this cycle,” Williams said. “Colorado is incredibly beautiful, especially this time of the year with the leaves turning.”

Here’s a look at each visit:

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The Fightin’ Granny fights no more

Rep. Gwyn Green, D-Golden, and William Kane, 10, of Lakewood, during a news conference at the state Capitol in 2008. William had urged the lawmaker to pursue a resolution making skiing and snowboarding the official winter sports of Colorado. Green died Wednesday at the age of 79. (George Kochaniec Jr./Rocky Mountain News/ Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library)

“The Fightin’ Granny,” as former Rep. Gwyn Green was known, has died, unleashing a string of memories of the lawmaker, whose first victory in 2004 was so close it led to a recount.

She campaigned in a 1954 Chevy pickup that belonged to a fellow Jefferson County Democrat, Max Tyler, who succeeded Green when she resigned effective June 1, 2009, citing health concerns and a desire to spend more time with her grandchildren.

Ian Silverii, now the executive director of ProgressNow Colorado, credits Rep. Gwyn Green for his deep involvement in Colorado Democratic politics. (Silverri FB photo)

Among those who paid tribute to Green after news of her death spread was Ian Silverii, now the executive director of ProgressNow Colorado.

He wrote on his Facebook page how in 2007 he packed everything he owned in his grandfather’s 2001 Dodge Intrepid and drove from New Jersey to Colorado, where he managed his first state House campaign, for Green.

“Gwyn taught me everything about being progressive, having integrity, fighting the good fight and never letting up,” he wrote in part.

“I’ll never forget her infectious laugh, her tireless work ethic, and her short temper for injustice. Gwyn Green earned her nickname, ‘The Fightin’ Granny’ and she’s the one who taught me how to fight for what’s right.

“Rest in peace friend, I wouldn’t have this life without your mentorship and your trust in me. The world lost a warrior, and Colorado lost a legend.”

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Secretary Williams teams up with FBI, CU Denver for cybersecurity event

FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Calvin Shivers, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell addressed elected officials, candidates and others today before the start of a cybersecurity training exercise. (FBI photo)

Another day, another exercise on cybersecurity for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, this time teaming up with the Denver FBI office and the University of Colorado Denver.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams joined with FBI Special Agent in Charge Calvin Shivers and CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell today in welcoming elected officials and candidates to a training event at the Tivoli Turnhalle. The half day seminar was designed to help them maintain a posture of awareness and protect themselves from cyber intrusion.

Among those at today’s cybersecurity event put on by the FBI and the Colorado Secretary of State’s office were Fremont County Deputy Clerk Dotty Gardunio and elections director Jami Goff. Behind them are the SOS’ chief information security officer Rich Schliep and Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

“We have with us today candidates, parties, and others because cybersecurity isn’t just limited to the actual election process,” Williams said, in his introduction.

“For a lot of individuals, when they hear a report of a hack, they don’t distinguish between the ballot and information that might have been obtained about a candidate or a party. So I appreciate your willingness to be here, your willingness to participate and, frankly, your willingness to actually show leadership in this area.”

Among those at Monday’s exercise were Martha Tierney, the attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party, Pam Anderson, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, and Tom Lucero, a former member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents.

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