Longtime Colorado Secretary of State employee to retire

Senior systems manager Brenda Lavely retired today after working for nearly 32 years at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. (SOS photo)

Senior systems manager Brenda Lavely ends her long and accomplished tenure at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office at the end of the year when she retires after serving under eight secretaries  over a span of nearly 32 years.

At her retirement ceremony today, Lavely was feted with two huge cakes, greeting cards and heartfelt well wishes.

“It’s not all been fun,” she said to laughter, “but there are so many of you who are really close to my heart. It’s bittersweet for me but it’s time. I want to thank you all for being my friend.”

Among those who attended the retirement ceremony was former Deputy Secretary of State Bill Hobbs, who retired in 2011 after serving five secretaries of state over 12 years.

Lavely has participated in the transformation of the office from paper forms and lines out the door to automation. She has impacted the lives of hundreds by making sure the data center operations run smoothly, managing the help desk to provide internal customer support, and being involved in the design and construction of the existing agency data center.

“Brenda is one of those people who will do whatever is needed to get the job done well,” said Chief Information Officer Trevor Timmons. “She has a long track record of helping people who don’t even know what they need get what they need.”

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Arrupe Jesuit High students learn skills at Secretary of State’s office

Dinell, an Arrupe Jesuit High School student who has a work study job at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. (SOS photo)

Who knew that when Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visited Arrupe Jesuit High School last year to present a voter registration award it would lead to reducing a backlog at the SOS this year?

During the visit to the north Denver school, Williams learned that Arrupe Jesuit offers students a unique corporate work study program where students are employed at a variety of places, including nonprofits, law firms and health centers. The Secretary of State’s office decided to participate.

Darleen Herrera, an investigator in the Colorado Secretary of State’s bingo-raffle division, and Jamilee, a work study student from Arrupe Jesuit High School. (SOS photo)

That’s how Dinell and Jamilee, freshmen at Arrupe, ended up at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office working under the supervision of Shannon Bee, the bingo-raffle program manager.

The pair has gained skills in data entry and verifying scanned documents. Their salaries from the state go toward their tuition.

“It’s been rewarding to work in a state agency and make sure that the people of Colorado are served efficiently,” Dinell said. “The work I’ve done for the past few months has set the office ahead a whole year.”

That’s because the two have been able to reduce a backlog that was creating problems, said Gary Zimmerman, the Secretary of State’s chief of staff. If documents aren’t scanned and entered into the system they can’t be quickly searched.

“Thanks to these Arrupe Jesuit students, we have continued to improve the customer service that the Williams administration has provided to the public,” Zimmerman said.

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Colorado Secretary of State: Working to provide even better service

Business and Licensing staffers Katy Wallace, Colin Whetsel and Amberdawn Scott.

Each year, employees across all divisions at the Colorado Secretary of State go through training to improves processes and provide even better services.

It’s called “LEAN training,” and the Business and Licensing Division just finished up three rounds. The teams focused on different areas within the Business and Licensing division: the notary application rejection rate, bingo-raffle electronic filing adoption rate, and the commercial registered agent or CRA filing process.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

“We have come a long way in teaching our staff to use lean tools and ‘speak’ a common language of process improvement,” said Mike Hardin, the director of Business and Licensing.

Each team presented an “as-is” process map that also identified issues and opportunities for improvements. They then developed a “to-be” process map that shows a future improved process and generated a gap analysis to document the changes that need to be made. These three steps are the core of the LEAN methodology used to train the staff.

It’s all part of the Colorado Secretary of State’s reputation for giving Colorado businesses the tools to thrive.

Under Secretary Wayne Williams, filing rates for new businesses are at record highs and business fees are some of the lowest in the nation.  Williams this year partnered with Gov. John Hickenlooper and created MyBizColorado, a new business start-up tool that supports small business owners across the state.

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Secretary of State Wayne Williams wanders West

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Dolores County Clerk LaRita Randolph holding an antique ballot box. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams headed out to the westernmost part of the state to visit Dolores County Clerk LaRita Randolph as part of his effort to visit all 64 county clerks at least once every two years.

“I made the commitment that I was going to make an elections-related visit to every county, every two years,” Williams said. “I made a job commitment, not a political commitment.”

Like Williams, Randolph will be leaving office in January. The two discussed what lies ahead while reflecting on a successful midterm election.

“We were comparing notes about what life holds in the next few months, and of course, we talked about the election that we just went through and how we are glad Colorado is cutting edge and everything went smoothly,” Randolph said.

Randolph and her staff completed their risk-limiting audit yesterday with “flying colors,” according to Williams.

This was the first year Dolores County used Dominion Voting Systems. Randolph reported a seamless transition towards more tech-savvy election administration. She especially appreciated the Dominion adjudication feature, which allows for election judges to interpret ballots with unclear markings and digitally records the judge’s decision to count the ballot.

“It saves the judges so much work,” she said. “So I couldn’t be more pleased with the Dominion product.”

Dolores County had a turnout that rivaled the 2016 general election. Randolph was able to report the results 12 minutes after the polls closed on election night. The county had two contested local races, one of which was the clerk’s race.

Lana Hancock, municipal clerk for the town of Dolores, will take over as the Dolores County Clerk and Recorder in January.

“She will be fresh to this office. She will have a lot to learn, but she’s bringing a lot of experience with her just in the municipal clerk side,” Randolph said.

Randolph hopes that Hancock will continue to bolster the county’s election security and attend trainings like EPIC, which was held in September to prepare clerks for the upcoming midterms.

Colorado’s third risk-limiting audit

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams today kicked off the state’s third risk-limiting audit for the 2018 midterm elections, which he said will “provide a level of assurance” to voters.

Campaign finance director Steve Bouey draws a dice from Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, bottom photo,and then rolls it. The number was used to generate a random seed for election officials auditing their ballots.

“It is a big deal. The people need to know that the results are accurate and they need to have confidence in that so that they have respect for the government that is elected,” Williams said.

“It is also to instill a sense of civic engagement in people so that they believe there is a reason to vote because their votes are counted accurately.”

The vast majority of counties, 58 to be exact, will be conducting a comparison audit. This involves examining and verifying ballots pulled in close races to provide statistical proof that the outcome of the election is correct.

Last week, the Secretary of State staff met to choose which races to audit. Among these races are county clerk contests, mayoral elections and the first statewide race in Colorado to go through the process: the bid for attorney general between Republican George Brauchler and Democrat Phil Weiser, the victor.

Alton Dillard with Denver Elections throws the dice as Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams looks on. It’s part of the process to conduct a risk-limiting audit. (SOS photo)

Williams explained the number of ballots pulled depends upon the number of ballots cast and the margin. A random seed, which is a number consisting of at least 20 digits, was created by sequential rolls of 20 individual 10-sided dice. This number is used to determine which specific ballots will be pulled in each race to compare with the election results.

Members of the public were randomly selected to roll the dice.

A number of out-of-state observers were in attendance, including Michigan election officials who are planning to implement a RLA in their state next month.

The observers then visited Denver Elections where they saw the RLA first hand, as Denver’s ballots being pulled and compared to the paper record.

To see the comparison audit data and reports, check out the Audit Center.