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.

International professionals visit CO Secretary of State

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Deputy Suzanne Staiert at his side lead a discussion with international visitors about elections in Colorado. (SOS photo)

International professionals from four continents visited with Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams Tuesday where they learned about the state’s nationally lauded election system. The participants hail from countries including Chile, Afghanistan, and South Sudan and are leaders in their fields of politics, business, and journalism.

“Coloradans vote at some of the highest rates in America because we make the process easy and fair, empower citizens to vote on taxes and other matters though initiatives and referenda, and instill confidence in the voters,” Williams said. “They know that their vote matters and that it will be counted.”

The participants, who are with the International Visitor Leadership Program,  visited Washington D.C. and Kansas City, Mo., before arriving in Denver. The IVLP is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program and has sought to build mutual understanding between the U.S. and other nations since its launch in 1940.

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Colorado celebrates 125 years of women getting the right to vote

Women in Colorado campaign for the passage of the 19th amendment. ( The Autry Museum photo)

On Nov.  7th, the day after this year’s general election, Colorado will celebrate 125 years of women getting the right to vote.

The Atlas Obscura Society Denver will host a celebration event tonight at the historic Evans School. Activities include an interactive presentation by HistoriCity and a speech by Amber McReynolds, the executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute.

After two failed attempts, the women’s suffrage movement won voting rights for women by a state referendum in 1893. The amendment was drafted by J. Warner Mills, a Denver lawyer, and sponsored by state Rep. J.T. Heath of Montrose County. “The opposition saloonkeepers and brewers, who feared women voters would crack down on liquor, were not taking the suffrage campaign seriously and mounted little opposition,” according to an Internet article on the vote.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams sits with students at Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver one year ago before presenting seniors with the Eliza Pickrell Routt award for voter registration. (SOS photo)

Colorado became the second state to enfranchise women behind Wyoming, paving the way for the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920.

One of the leaders in the suffrage movement was Eliza Pickrell Routt, the wife of Colorado’s first governor, John Routt.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has honored the former first lady and her contributions to women’s suffrage by naming an award after her. It goes to high schools where 85 percent or more of the senior class has registered to vote.

“When women got the right to, she was the first one to register,” he said.

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