By Lizzie Stephani
Colorado election officials shone at the Election Center’s 33rd national conference, winning several prestigious awards and gaining certification or re-certification as election administrators.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams, as well as members of various clerks’ offices, attended the conference in Garden Grove, Calif., which ended Wednesday.
“Colorado’s county clerks have one of the highest participation rates in the Election Center and it was exciting to see Colorado’s clerks win awards and their staffers graduate at this year’s national conference,” Williams said. “Colorado won three of the 10 awards that were handed out.”
El Paso and Denver counties, and the Colorado County Clerks Association were recognized for their work in serving their voters with professional best practices.
The Election Center, also known as the National Association of Election Officials, is one of the America’s primary organizations for the training and certification of election and voter registration administrators.
Steve Moreno, who formerly served as the Weld County clerk and recorder and is now a county commissioner, serves on the Election Center’s board of directors. The group hands out awards at its annual conference.
The El Paso County clerk’s office received the “Independence Award for Innovation in Voting Accessibility” in partnership with The Independence Center, a local nonprofit in Colorado Springs focused on working with people with disabilities, their families, and the community-at-large to support independent living.
The clerk’s office says the award recognizes the leadership of elections manager Liz Olson.
“Our office is committed to ensuring all citizens may participate in our democracy’s cherished right to vote,” said El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman. “It is gratifying to work with The Independence Center so that persons with disabilities have easy accessibility to vote, and to enhance awareness of the importance of voting accessibility for all citizens.”
Denver Elections received the “Eagles Award for Outstanding Professional Practice of 2017,” specifically for its digital customer service platform, “SMS to Case.” It allows voters to text keywords to Denver Elections for an auto-response along with other questions that can be answered by customer service members.
“As we close in on the November election, voters will be able to text keywords like VSPC to see an interactive map of Voter Service and Polling Centers and 24 Hour Ballot Drop-Off Boxes, TRACE to get a link to BallotTRACE etc.,” Denver Elections wrote in its Facebook page.
It is Denver Elections’ fourth national award from the Election Center, and its second Eagles Award. Last year’s Eagles Award winner also hailed from Colorado, with Boulder County taking home the award.
“Since taking office in 2011, I’ve looked to use technology where it makes sense for our customers,” said Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson. “It’s wonderful to receive recognition for the innovative ways we answer questions and interact with voters. I’m proud of my Elections Division’s commitment to ensuring Denver voters have accurate, secure and convenient elections.
The Colorado County Clerks Association’s data subcommittee, led by Elections Director Jennifer Morrell of Arapahoe County, and Denver Elections’ Amanda Beach, won the “Democracy Award for Best Practices.” The multi-jurisdictional committee provides data to help Colorado election officials predict and plan for elections.
“We are so proud of the collaboration and the innovation that our counties represent for our citizens in Colorado,” said Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell, CCCA president-elect. “They continue to strive for creative and efficient voter services.”
In addition, Colorado election officials graduated as Certified Elections/Registration Administrators by the Election Center.
To be designated as CERA, participants have to complete a multi-year course of study conducted by the Election Center’s Professional Education Program and completion of 12-core course taught by the master’s in public administration faculty of Auburn University. The courses range from ethics, to voter registration and elections law, planning, communications, and voter participation, among others.
The intent of the program is to professionalize the management of voter registration and elections administration in promoting and preserving public trust in the democratic process, according to various web reports.
Williams and Kim Wyman of Washington are the only two secretaries of state who are CERA designated. Both attended the conference, where Williams renewed the certification he first received three years ago.
Other Colorado election officials also graduated with their CERA designation:
Adams County: elections administrator Christi Coburn, and Kevin Strauch, tech and operations manager.
Denver Elections: Steve Sharp, senior GIS analyst; Drake Rambke, ballot operations administrator; Dan Volkosh, compliance officer; and Stuart Clubb, ballot operations coordinator.
El Paso County: Michelle Stroup and Stacey Peacock, senior elections specialists. Data specialist Cynthia Fuller started the process for certification, while Brian McLellan, senior elections specialist, attended workshops to maintain his certification.
Larimer County: Shelly Dunlop, elections technician.