Secretary Williams: the eastern plains and EPIC

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with members of the Phillip County clerk’s office: elections deputy Mary Roberts, accounts payable clerk Debbie Bennett, Clerk and Recorder Beth Zilla, and clerk deputy Val Danielson. (SOS photo)
Morgan County Clerk Susan Bailey and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams in front of a quilt featuring communities in the county. (SOS photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams headed to the eastern plains this week to visit county clerks in Morgan and Phillip counties where he talked about the upcoming election, the one that just ended and a table top election security exercise that is generating national attention.

He met with Morgan County Clerk Susan Bailey in Fort Morgan Thursday and Phillips County Clerk Beth Zilla in Holyoke Friday.

“Thank you for stopping by, it’s always great to see you!” Bailey wrote on her Facebook page afterward. “Your support of our election process is so appreciated.”

“He’s such a down-to-earth guy,” Zilla said.

Bailey will see Williams again on Sunday when they head to Salida for the Colorado County Clerks Association’s summer conference. Zilla is unable to attend.

Some members of the Morgan County Clerk and Recorder’s office meet with Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. From left to right, Pat Mendoza, the secretary, Clerk and Recorder Susan Bailey and Lisa Williams. (SOS photo)

Secretary Williams talked with the clerks about the election security tabletop exercise his office is hosting on Sept. 6. at the Inverness Hotel.

Nearly 200 county election officials, along with representatives from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Election Assistance Commission and the National Association of Secretaries of State plan to attend the event, which is kind of war games, election style.

The formal name is Election Preparedness for Infrastructure and Cybersecurity or EPIC, and the event will feature two, hour-long exercises. The first will follow the five months leading to the 2018 general election. The second concerns Election Day.

Phillips County Clerk Beth Zilla and Lynn Bartels, the communications director for the secretary of state, wearing the Holyoke Dragons T-shirt she bought during her last visit with Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Each will feature dozens of cyber and physical security scenarios arising and subsequent cybersecurity preparedness activities.

“I’m sure my eyes are going to be opened wide,” Zilla said, but added she doubts Russians or others would be interested in Phillips County because “we’re so small.”

Phillips County is home to 2,638 active voters, where there are 1,519 Republicans, 711 unaffiliated voters and 376 Democrats.

Williams’ first stop in Fort Morgan was at the Quail Ridge Dairy with state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling. (More on that visit in a later blog.)

Williams then met with Bailey and each of her 11 staffers. Morgan County is home to 14,318 voters and like most eastern plains locales, Republicans dominate county politics.

He and Bailey talked about the risk-limiting audit that the clerk’s office participated in after the primary election in June, which showed that the election machines correctly read the votes the way the voters intended them.

Bailey showed Williams the newly remodeled Motor Vehicle Department , which has provided for more privacy and security for staff and our citizens.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visits with the Fort Morgan Times on Thursday. Left is reporter Adrienne Pearson and right is Brian Porter, the publisher for the Fort Morgan Times and Brush News-Tribune. (SOS photo)

Afterward Williams stopped by the Fort Morgan Times where he talked with reporter Adrienne Pearson about election security and proposed ballot measures.

Tacked to Pearson’s bulletin board is a list of common phrases, such as hello and thank you, in Somalian. Many Somalian refugees have moved to the Eastern Plains community to work for Cargill, the beef-processing plant.