Colorado’s mail ballot elections ignite interest in Alaskan officials

Claire Richardson, the Alaskan lieutenant governor’s chief of staff, flanked by Alaskan elections staffers, during a visit Thursday to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. (SOS photo)

Colorado is one of the top five states in the country for voter turnout, due in part to its mail-ballot system for elections.

Secretary of State Williams encourages election officials from other states to visit and see how elections in Colorado are run. Alaskan officials did just that Thursday.

Alaskan election officials, including four people from the secretary of state’s office, one state senator, and two interest group representatives visited Denver Elections and then the Secretary of State’s office.

Alaska State Sen. Gary Stevens of Kodiak holds us the plate of salmon he declined to eat while at a Denver restaurant Thursday. He jokingly suggested it was farm-raised and not worthy of an Alaska resident.

During lunch at Maggiano’s, the Alaskan delegation mentioned that they were envious that the Colorado Secretary of State’s election division is housed in one location, and not spread across the state. They run across many challenges running an election in such a large state where the Capitol, Juneau, is accessible only by plane or ferry.

Secretary Williams, Colorado elections director Judd Choate, and county support manager Dwight Shellman, sat down with the Alaskan officials to discuss Colorado elections’ processes and what Colorado does to maintain the integrity of elections.

Shellman explained the innovative risk-limiting audits system Colorado will utilize in the next election. Colorado is the first state to implement statewide RLAs to elections, a new and better type of post-election audit.

Alaska is interested in moving toward an all-mail ballot system. SOS staffers talked to them about how to incorporate vote centers and mail ballots in the same election.

David Becker, executive director of Election Innovation and Judd Choate, Colorado elections director, at the meeting with Alaskan delegates. (SOS photo)

The delegation was also showed how Colorado uses a web version of the voter registration database to allow voter to update their voter registration or register new through election day while simultaneously making it virtually impossible to commit in-person voter fraud, even when the voter already received a mail ballot.

“It’s a bit of a trick, the two don’t necessarily have an obvious link with one another,” said Choate. “We are showing them the Colorado model to see if that would be something they would be interested in.”