El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman: thinking outside the big box

El Paso County’s newest 24-7 ballot box is huge, and was custom made to accommodate all the ballots received at the East Library location. (EPC photo)

When it comes to elections, El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman can now boast opening the first 24-hour vehicle registration kiosk in the state and installing the largest ballot-drop box in Colorado – and possibly the country.

The kiosk opened one week ago today and someone took advantage of it at 1:50 a.m. the next day. Broerman joked that he’s not sure if a customer wanted to see if the kiosk truly was a 24-7 operation, or if he or she was doing some bar hopping and realized the car tags were expired.

As for what is Broerman is calling The MOAB  — The Mother of All Ballot Boxes — it was a custom built and is 68 percent larger by volume than the largest industry box. That’s a whole lot box but it was needed for a whole lot of customers. Broerman said the 24-hour ballot box at East Library in Colorado Springs was so heavily used it had to be emptied four or five times a day.

When he talked with Fort Knox Ballot Box Co. he was told that the box at the library already was the biggest one the company makes. The company came up with a couple of custom designs.

“They offered to make an even bigger box than the one we selected but it was so massive I thought we were going to have to have an FAA-approved landing light on it,” Broerman said, with a laugh.

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Secretary Williams finds plenty to say

Dawn Bryan, Tamra Farah, Evie Ashmore and Judy Allen pose for a photo before the start of the Douglas County Republican women lunch on Wednesday in Lone Tree. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has been on the speaking circuit in recent weeks, answering questions about voter lists, election security and how it will work next year when unaffiliated voters get mailed a Democrat and a Republican ballot for the primary.

Williams is scheduled to address Colorado Mesa University’s political club on Friday, and he will appear with Sen. Angela Williams — no relation but they joke about being brother and sister — at a town hall in Denver on Nov. 2. He or his deputy have spoken to two chapters of the League of Women voters, and the Broomfield Democrats and the Jeffco Republicans.

Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet listens as Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams addresses the Douglas County Republican Women’s group. (SOS photo)

“Colorado lets people vote,” Williams told the Douglas County Republican Women on Wednesday in Lone Tree.

“I grew up in a community in Virginia where there was no school board election, they were appointed. I grew up in a community where you didn’t get to vote on tax increases, on ballot questions.

“You have the right to vote here and Coloradans treasure that right.”

This fall’s coordinated election is Nov. 7. There is no statewide ballot measure, but voters will consider school board races, City Council races in some jurisdictions and local tax measures. Clerks could mail ballots starting Monday.

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#COleg, others mourns deaths of Debbie Haskins and Dan Chapman

Debbie Haskins, a much beloved legislative staffer, died Oct. 7. Services are set for Saturday. (Haskins family photo)

UPDATE: OLLS writes a wonderful story about Debbie Haskins.

Tributes continue to pour in for Debbie Haskins, one of the many behind-the-scenes players who provide stability at the Colorado Legislature, a place where lawmakers make their mark and then move on.

Haskins became an entry-level attorney for the Office of Legislative Legal Services in 1983 and worked her way up to assistant director. She died Saturday, Oct. 7.

Haskins had appointments scheduled for the week of Oct. 9 to work on legislation for the 2018 session.

Her husband, Steve, said her heart “just stopped.”

“It was very painless and it was quick,” he said. “She turned 60 in April. We had a big party for her. We just went on a big trip to France and Italy last May so that was good.”

A celebration of Debbie Haskins’ life is planned for 2 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 21, at First Plymouth Congregational Church, 3501 S. Colorado Blvd., in Cherry Hills Village.

“One of the hardest working people I’ve ever known,” former state Sen. Linda Newell tweeted after Haskins’ death. “Her  level of detail literally saved kids’ lives in my bills. Beautiful spirit.”

News of Haskins’ death stunned her family, friends and the Capitol community, which is its own kind of family.

“Not many people outside the Capitol know who Debbie Haskins is, but you can bet that over the past 34 years, not a single piece of important Colorado legislation got passed without Debbie’s eyes on it,” Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman said in a statement.

“She was one of the important conductors who made sure the trains ran on time, and it was thanks to her that new legislators and staffers could easily learn how the law-making process works.”

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Colorado, the “Burger King of elections”

Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks to Coloradans 50 and older about elections and other issues. He and Elena Nunez, the director of Common Cause, addressed an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute class on Tuesday. (SOS photo)

Colorado is “kind of the Burger King of elections,” Secretary of State Wayne Williams told a class Tuesday during a talk with seniors learning about government.

Williams and Elena Nunez, executive director of Common Cause Colorado, spoke to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a program through the University of Denver that provides adult learning for men and women age 50 and “better.”

Williams explained that Colorado is the only state that offers a mail-ballot system, early voting and polling-place locations two weeks before an election.

“So it’s kind of the Burger King of elections, right?” he said. “Having it your way, however you want to do it.”

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Happy Trails to our own Lynn Waring

Colorado Secretary of State staffers Cheryl Hodges and D.J. Davis and retiring employee Lynn Waring, which was flown over the Capitol in her honor. (SOS photo)

Lynn Waring has wowed colleagues at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office with her Halloween costumes so it came as a bit of surprise that she picked Friday to retire, just weeks away from impressing co-workers with another fun ensemble.

There was the tea bag, the web site, the melted crayon.

But Waring is going to miss something else, too — what could be metro Denver’s first snowstorm on Monday.

“It’s probably the first time I’ve heard the weather report and not panicked and thought, ‘Oh, dear,” Waring said today.

Waring began at the Secretary of State’s office in 2011, and for the past two years has handled bingo-and-raffle reports. She previously worked for Boulder County, including a stint as chief deputy to the public trustee, Sandy Hume.

Colorado Secretary of State employee Lynn Waring’s costume one Halloween.

The Secretary of State’s office today feted Waring with cake, cookies, a $100 gift card, a  retirement letter from Gov. John Hickenlooper and a flag flown over the Capitol.

Many wondered what the office was going to be like without Waring, who was known to slip a breakfast bar or some other treat on her co-workers’ desks. I’m sad to see her go. She reminded me of a milder version of Pat Worley, the former legislative staffer aide who made the state House such a fun place to work.

Waring could be counted on to remind her colleagues of some activity hosted by Employee Relations Committee, of which she was a member.

The committee helped collect donations and gift cards for the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office during unprecedented flooding in Baton Rogue, and items for the Colorado Food Bank as part of a Super Bowl bet with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office. Waring donned a chef’s hat when she and other members flipped pancakes for the all-you-can-eat employee breakfasts.

Waring was especially known for arranging the tours and treats for Take Your Kids to work day, where she loved to introduce her two grandkids.

Members of the Colorado Secretary of State’s Employee Relations Committee, along with businessman Rick Enstrom and Secretary of Wayne Williams. The committee helped organize the office’s food drive as part of a Super Bowl bet. From left to right: Kristine Reynolds, Cheryl Hodges, Enstrom, Lynn Waring, Secretary Williams, Janet Perry and Abbas Montoya. (SOS photo)

Waring and her husband, Russ, a surveyor, plan to sell their home in Arvada and move to their home in Estes Park, where they have loved spending weekends and holidays. She refers to him as “The Professor” because he taught “Surveyor 101” for 15 years at Arapahoe Community College.

The Professor was known to help out now and then, such as delivering pies to serve on Pi Day.

Members of the Employee Relations Committee, including Abbas Montoya, said Waring will be missed.

“Lynn’s enthusiasm was infectious,” he said, “and she made us all excited to do things, like Pi Day.”