‘Doodle 4 Google’ competition electrifies Aurora elementary school

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks to students at Black Forest Hills Elementary School in Aurora today as part of a Doodle 4 Google event. (SOS photo)
Fourth-grader Madison Lee after Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced she is the Colorado winner of the Doodle 4 Google competition. (Google)

By Julia Sunny and Lynn Bartels

The happiest place in Colorado today might just have been an Aurora elementary school where fourth-grader Madison Lee learned that the artwork she submitted to run on Google’s home page was picked as the winning entry from the Centennial State.

Her parents, her principal, her art teacher and an auditorium full of students wearing colorful Google T-shirts could barely contain themselves when Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced Madison as the winner.

She never stopped smiling after that.

“It hurts your mouth a lot to be a celebrity,” she said, as the celebration at Black Forest Hills Elementary School wound down.

Fourth grader Madison Lee with her winning Google design, her art teacher, Erica Knowlton and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS)

Each year, Google holds a nationwide contest that allows students K-12 to submit their doodle for Google.com. This year’s theme was, “What I see for the future.”

“I thought it might be cool to have robotic people who clean your house and people who go to Mars … and aliens floating around,” she said.

Madison is one of 53 finalists nationwide for the ninth annual “Doodle 4 Google” competition. Starting today, everyone across the country can vote online (the link is here) for their favorite doodle. Voting ends March 6.

“Please vote for me!” said Madison, whose drawing is in the “Grades 4-5” category.

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Secretary Wayne Williams plays pivotal role in voter-confidence discussion

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, third from left, was one of six panelists to address voter confidence during the National Association of Secretaries of State winter conference in Washington, D.C. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams believes the hyper scrutiny over elections these days can actually be a good thing so officials have time to make changes before the next general election to increase voter confidence in the system.

“People need to have confidence that their election officials are doing everything they can to maintain the integrity of the election,” Williams said. “We have to be able to respond, to say, ‘We hear the  problem, we’re addressing it.  And we’re trying to make sure the process has that integrity so that people believe their vote is going to count.'”

Williams served as one of six members on a panel during the National Associations of Secretaries of State winter conference last week in Washington, D.C., that examined the public’s trust and confidence in elections.

“I can say without question this was the best run federal election I have ever seen,” said panelist David Becker, the executive director for the Center for Election Innovation and Research.

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Colorado’s state elections director rises to NASED president

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and his elections director, Judd Choate, in Washington, D.C. (SOS photo)

Colorado’s state elections director, Judd Choate, was sworn in Thursday night as president of the National Association of State Election Directors.

When administering the oath, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talked about Choate’s unrelenting commitment to his beloved University of Kansas basketball team. Williams assured onlookers that Choate would apply that same passion toward his leadership of the organization and its goal for elections excellence.

Among those in the crowd: Matt Masterson, one of three commissioners with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

“Thanks to the leadership of Secretary Williams and Judd Choate,  Colorado is a national leader in elections,” Masterson said. “As president of the State Election Directors, Judd will have a platform to lead and share the great work done in Colorado.”

The organization, referred to as Nass-ed, holds its winter conference in Washington, D.C., at the same time the National Association of Secretaries of State meets.

“Election directors can adopt policies to increase voter turnout,” Choate said. “I hope to use my year as president to encourage the adoption of these policies.”

Or you can call Jenny at 867-5309

Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and White House aide Billy Kirkland today at the National Association of Secretaries of State conference. (SOS picture)

How’s this for brave? A Trump administration official addressing the nation’s secretaries of state today gave out his personal cell phone number.

The only other person I know who regularly hands out his cell phone number is my boss, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who orders business cards by the bushel and gives them to, oh everyone.

Billy Kirkland, the deputy director for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, was part of a panel “State Priorities in the New Trump Administration” during the National Association of Secretaries of State winter conference in Washington, D.C.

Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, the former NASS president, offered a bit of advice: If you have questions about elections, hackers, cyber security, ask us. And Kirkland offered his number.*

Schedler and others, including Williams, are miffed with the outgoing administration’s 11th-hour decision to classify election equipment as “critical infrastructure.”

“No one ever asked us how an election was run,” Schedler complained, noting election equipment is not connected to the Internet. “How do you attack something in cyberspace that’s not there.”

Others on the panel included Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, the current NASS president, and  representatives from the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislators and the National Association of Attorneys General.

*No, I’m not giving out the number.

A text, not an app. Who knew? Not me.

Global Mobile President Jim Snyder, left, and CEO Lee Durham, right, flank Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at today’s National Association of Secretaries of State conference. (SOS photo)

One of my more memorable moments as the press person for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams came last summer when I asked my intern to proofread a proposed release with the headline, “There’s an app for that.”

Julia Sunny scanned the release and said, “But it’s not an app.”

What? Sure it was. Coloradans could 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.

“It has to be an app,” I said. “We recorded Wayne in a video talking about an app.”

“It’s not an app,” Sunny repeated.

I was reminded of that unfortunate moment today when I met Lee Durham, the chief executive officer of Global Mobile, a Georgia-based company that developed the texting service. Global Mobile execs were at National Association of Secretaries of State, which is holding its winter conference in Washington, D.C.

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