Secretary Williams serves on bipartisan election preparedness panel

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, right,  joined other election experts  and others in Washington, D.C., to discuss “Are We Ready to Run Our Elections?” From left to right, moderator John Fortier, director of The Democracy Project, Thomas Hicks, the chair of the U.S.  Election Assistance Commission, Matthew Masterson, senior cybersecurity adviser for the Department of Homeland Security, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Secretary Williams. (NASS photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams recently made a trip to the nation’s capital to discuss Colorado’s progress in keeping the voting process and voter registration accessible and secure.

As far as accessibility goes, Colorado is one of the easiest states to vote in, according to a recent study by Northern Illinois University.

“We are the Burger King of running elections,” Secretary Williams said. “You can basically have it your way — vote by mail, in person … lots of different ways for people to vote and participate.”

Williams was joined by New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Matthew Masterson, senior cybersecurity adviser for the Department of Homeland Security, and Thomas Hicks, chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. (NASS photo)

Williams addressed concerns over cybersecurity and foreign influence as part of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s event, “Are We Ready to Run Our Elections?”

The panel discussed the 2016 election and what Masterson described as a “real and concentrated effort to undermine confidence.” Williams pointed out that many Americans are still troubled by the cyber attacks and dissemination of disinformation on social media in the last national election.

Both Masterson and Hicks said their roles are to support the states to prevent and respond to security threats, as well as encourage wider participation help to ensure a safe election.

The working relationship between Homeland Security and the National Association of Secretary of States,  or NASS, has improved.  Williams, who serves on the NASS board, said in 2016 the federal agency did not know who to tell about election security threats. Now, both the states and the federal government have made a concerted effort to work together.

“The difference between then and now is the difference between night and day,” he said.

Masterson, a former EAC member, agreed, noting “the biggest change and improvement is the amount of information being shared… We are just getting regular information from states and locals. That is critical to understanding the threat, sharing information, and managing risks.”

New Mexico and Colorado both utilize risk limiting audits to ensure that voter confidence remains high in the tabulation of the election and monitor social media to respond to misinformation.

“If you believe that your vote will get counted,” Williams said, “you’re more likely to vote.”

Secretary Williams joins other election officials for national discussion

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams today appeared on a panel concerning best election practices that was hosted by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. From left to right: West Virginia Secretary of Sate Mac Warner, Paul Lux, supervisor of elections for Okaloose County, Fla., EAC Vice Chair Christy McCormick, Sherry Poland, director of the Hamilton County, Ohio, board of elections, and Williams. (EAC photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams today joined other election officials and talked about Colorado’s registration statistics, its risk-limiting audits, and voter confidence. He opened by wishing the room a “Happy Rocktober,” a shout-out the Rockies for their historic win against the Chicago Cubs last night.

Williams was part of a U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) Election Readiness Summit.

“There are really two goals in an elections process,” Williams said. “One is to run it fairly and accurately, and the other, and just as important in many ways, is for the people to recognize that it has been done fairly and accurately.”

He was joined by West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, Sherry Poland, director of the Hamilton County, Ohio, board of elections, Paul Lux, supervisor of elections for Okaloosa County, Fla., and the panel moderator, EAC Vice Chair Christy McCormick.

The panel also discussed youth involvement in the election process, highlighting Ohio’s Youth at the Booth program, West Virginia’s Jennings Randolf award, and Colorado’s High School Student Ambassador Program.  Check out Williams visit to Denver’s East High School last week for National Voter Registration Day.

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Secretary Williams visits Baca County

Secretary Wayne Williams stand with Baca County officials in front of the county flag at the courthouse in Springfield. In the back row, left to right, are Baca County Commissioner Rick Butler, Secretary Williams and Baca County Commissioner Glen R. “Spike” Ausums. County Clerk Sharon Dubois and County Treasurer Susan Cochell are in the front. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams this week visited yet another county, checking in with Baca County Clerk Sharon Dubois on the very southern and eastern edge of the state.

They discussed efforts for the Nov. 6 general election, including 24/7 ballot drop boxes and Dominion elections equipment. During the visit Monday, Dubois said the office had already gotten back one military and overseas ballot. The deadline for sending them out was two days prior, on Sept. 22.

Williams toured the courthouse in Springfield and spent time with Baca County Commissioners Glen R. “Spike” Ausmus and Rick Butler.  Ausums and Williams are old friends, having served as county commissioners together for Baca and El Paso counties respectively a number of years ago. They discussed the how to best serve the people of Colorado.

“Most voters want services, they don’t care about what party you’re in, but do you do your job? They care about how long they wait, are the potholes patched? Is it an easy process to vote?” Williams said.

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Wayne Williams hits the road again

Secretary of State Wayne Williams stands at the top of Molas Pass, 10,910 feet, in the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado this week, where he was visiting county clerks.  (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visited three southwestern counties this week to check in with clerks prior to this year’s midterm elections to see if they needed any help from his office.

Williams thanked the clerks for heading to the Denver metro area earlier this month to attend a training exercise called EPIC — Election Preparedness for Infrastructure and Cybersecurity. National and state cybersecurity officials attended the event, where clerks and county officials handled various Election Day scenarios thrown at them.

Ben Schler, the Secretary of State’s legal and policy manager, accompanied Williams on the trip. Schler, who grew up on a farm just outside of Durango, said he was happy to see the fall colors and to “make sure that we provide the clerks with the support they need.”

This week’s deadline for the clerks: Military and overseas ballots must go out by Saturday.

The secretary and Schler met with clerks in San Juan, San Miguel and Alamosa counties.

“I made a commitment when I  first ran for this office to visit every county every two years. So far, we have hit 61 counties in this cycle,” Williams said. “Colorado is incredibly beautiful, especially this time of the year with the leaves turning.”

Here’s a look at each visit:

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Secretary Williams and SOS staff attend small business round tables

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams recently attended a meeting arranged by the Small Business Administration. He is with Dan Nordberg, the Regional VIII director of the Small Business Administration, and Frances Padilla, director of the Colorado U.S. SBA district office, Becky Fuller, and Raul Acosta.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Mike Hardin, the director of business and licensing for the SOS, last week attended Colorado Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables organized by the U.S. Small Business Administration in Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, respectively.

The SBA’s office of advocacy organized round tables across the country to hear from local small businesses from various industries, including transportation, real estate, manufacturing and more. The round tables aim to “discover burdensome regulations that might be hindering the business environment,” SBA Regional Administrator Dan Nordberg said.

The SBA advocacy office will take the information to Congress to try to amend statutory regulations or try to address the regulations within the preview of agencies.

“It’s important to get input from small businesses,” Secretary Williams said. “This program provided an excellent opportunity to receive that input and showcased our office’s commitment to helping folks realize their American dream.”

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