Visitors from Hungary and India visited Secretary of State Wayne Williams today to learn more about how Colorado elections are run.
With the midterm election Tuesday, the international guests were eager to ask questions about the process. Among the Hungarians were members of FIDESZ party, the ruling party in Hungary for the last eight years, parliament members, and communications directors for various offices of the Hungarian government.
“Mail ballots are strange to us, we don’t have that in Hungary,” one guest said.
Williams said mail ballots make voting more accessible.
Another question: “Would online voting make young people vote more?”
Williams said he doesn’t trust the security of it yet, but he did explain how some military and overseas voters are able to vote online, through an encrypted system.
“Some people don’t believe someone who works on a submarine should be allowed to vote,” he said. “We do.”
Bolder Boulder refers to a race, but can accurately be applied to the Boulder County elections division, too. This year,the division is giving away coasters, bookmarks, posters and even temporary tattoos that contain election information.
“Our office takes voter outreach seriously, and that means reaching voters in unconventional ways and unconventional places,” said Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall.
“By conducting our outreach in a variety of channels we are helping reinforce the message that voting is a priority. It helps the voter engage in the process, check their registration, and puts election information at their fingertips in a variety of settings.”
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams praised Hall and other clerks for their efforts to boost voter registration and turnout. “There’s a reason we’ve got the highest voter registration in the country, and we’re tops in turnout, too, and innovate ideas such as this are part of our success story.
It’s hard work to run an office as seamless as the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. Once a year, the Human Resources Department holds employee appreciation week to show thanks to staffers for all their efforts throughout the year.
Each day this week, activities were offered such as daily walks, trivia questions, food and more:
Monday: The week kicked off with “Statey” award ballots, where the staff nominates their colleagues for various awards, and try to solve puzzles about the office and employees.
Trivia question of the day — Who won the coveted “Sunshine Award” in last year’s Statey Awards? Carla Moore, in the Finance Department and she’s been beaming even brighter ever since.
Tuesday: Employees were treated to bagels, cream cheese, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate for breakfast.
Trivia question of the day — Which month contains the most days that our office is closed (not including weekends)? November.
“Colorado is the state that has the highest percentage of registered voters in the United States of America,” Williams told students, which resulted in the crowd erupting with cheers.
Currently, there are 3.2 million active voters in Colorado, according to figures collected by the Secretary of State’s office through August. September’s numbers are expected to be released next week.
Michael Ankner, 2018’s American Legion Eagle Scout of the year and an Inspire student leader at East, told his peers about his recent trip to Mongolia and that the ability to vote there is scarce.
“I want you to know how important it is to participate in our democratic processes and how it really does help improve the way our government functions and makes things better for everyone,” Ankner said.
The National Association of Secretaries of State in 2012 designated September as National Voter Registration Month with the fourth Tuesday in September set as National Voter Registration Day to encourage voter participation and increase awareness about state requirements and deadlines for voting.
Williams challenged the students to register, enticing them with the Eliza Pickrell Routt award, given to high schools where at least 85 percent of eligible seniors register to vote.
“One of the things I want to do is come back here when you reach the 85 percent of registered seniors because if you do that, you will join a number of other high schools in getting the Eliza Pickrell Routt award,” Williams said. “I challenge you to reach that level. It is how we make a difference in this world.”
Colorado Secretary of State efforts to boost voter registration include:
Text to vote. Eligible Coloradans can 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.
Online registration. Colorado in 2010 became the fourth state to allow online voter registration and www.govotecolorado.com has processed more than 2 million transactions.
High School registration. The office hands out the Eliza Pickrell Routt award to high schools where at least 85 percent of eligible seniors have registered or preregistered to vote.
Secretary of State staffer Dwight Shellman returned from a hacking convention with the message that although Colorado’s elections are secure from the types of voting machine and website attacks demonstrated at the conference, state and local officials need to remain vigilant.
The 26th annual Def Con conference featured a large number of “villages” in which attendees learned about and sometimes attempted to hack a broad range of technologies and platforms, including automobile software and cannabis cultivation technologies. .
Shellman, the county support manager for the state Elections Division, focused most of his attention on the Voting Village, which invited participants to test “more than 30 pieces of electronic voting equipment” and “defend or hack mock office network and voter registration databases,” according to Def Con’s website.
He witnessed kiddie hackers gain access — but said the whole story wasn’t reported.