Secretary Williams heads south and west for latest clerks’ visit

R O A D   T R I P

Secretary Wayne Williams stands on a county road leading into San Luis in Costilla County. Late Monday he wrapped up a road tour that included county clerk visits, meetings with newspaper editors and a League of Women Voters forum in Durango. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams admired the scenery and marveled at the warm weather during his visits with five county clerks who share a border with New Mexico to see how the southern Colorado officials fared in the Nov. 7 election.

For the most part, pretty dang good considering  the clerks for the first time used new equipment from Dominion Voting Systems, and they successfully completed the first ever post-election risk-limiting audit.

Williams met with Montezuma County Clerk Kim Percell in Cortez, La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Parker in Durango,  Archuleta County Clerk June Madrid in Pagosa Springs, Conejos County Clerk Lawrence Gallegos in Conejos and Costilla County Clerk Karen Garcia in San Luis.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams visited five counties on the New Mexico border on his last clerks’ visit.

In every county, he asked the clerks and their staffs, “Are you getting what you need from our office?”

And the answer always made Williams smile.

Williams visited all 64 clerks’ offices during his first two years in office, and is on his second round of visits.

“I love visiting with Colorado’s county clerks and other concerned citizens about elections,” the secretary said after the trip.

“I am particularly gratified by the reception we received, whether at the League of Women Voters forum in Durango or at remote county clerk’s office. So often people in southwestern Colorado feel isolated from the state. Their TV stations come out of New Mexico, and they feel like state officials only show up when a river changes color.”

Here’s a look at each county visit:

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Secretary Williams talks dollars and sense to JBC

Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks with lawmakers and members of the Joint Budget Committee Tuesday before a hearing on the department’s budget. Left to right: Rep. Dan Thurlow, R-Grand Junction; Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley; Secretary Williams; Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud; and JBC Chairwoman Millie Hamner, D-Dillon. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams highlighted the office’s achievements and challenges when he presented his budget requests to the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday.

“We work very hard to make sure we provide the services that Colorado expects and deserves and our paying for with their fees,” he said. “I’m proud that we are able to do that with business fees that are among the lowest in the nation.

Secretary Wayne Williams, the SOS’ budget director, Brad Lang, and Rep. Susan Beckman, R-Littleton, at Tuesday’s Joint Budget Committee hearing. (SOS photo)

“As the state grows, as our processes change, we need to keep pace with that. We need not to be caught napping and waiting and our budget anticipates that.”

He noted the office is working on an information campaign to educate voters about Colorado’s first open primary next June, when unaffiliated voters will receive a ballot and must decide whether to vote the Democratic or Republican ticket.

Voters last year approved that measure with the passage of Proposition 108 and Williams has been on a speaking tour, explaining it to Colorado voters. He will address the League of Women Voters in Durango on Saturday.

He told the JBC that Colorado has just completed the first ever in the nation risk limiting audit, which is an audit of the state’s elections based on mathematical algorithms.

“That provides us with a statistically significant probability that the state’s elections systems correctly tabulated Coloradans ballots,” Williams said.

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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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“The big guy” talks about elections issues with Jon Caldara

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Jon Caldara, president of the right-leaning Independence Institute, discussed a range of election topics during a recent appearance together, from the Russians to the impact of a measure that allows unaffiliated voters to participate in primary elections without declaring to be a Republican or a Democrat.

Williams appeared on Caldara’s show, Devil’s Advocate, which was taped last week and airs at 8:30 tonight on Colorado Public Television Channel 12.  (Update: Here’s the link to the show.)

“We’re going to have open primaries, which is crazy to me but the law is the law and now unaffiliated candidates will be able to vote in any primary,” Caldara said, referring to Propositions 107 and 108, which voters passed a year ago. “So if I’m a registered Republican, at this point why bother? You can just be unaffiliated and get both ballots.”

Williams pointed out that more than 90 percent of candidates get on the ballot through the caucus and assembly process. And in some places with lopsided registration — GOP- dominated El Paso County or Democratic-laden Denver — that process can determine who wins in November.

“So there’s still a very good reason to be affiliated and participate,” he said.

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Almost 1,000 Coloradans sign up as part of National Voter Registration Day

Celebrating National Voter Registration Day at Civic Center Park were, from left to right, Alton Dillard, spokesman for Denver Elections; former Colorado Secretary of State Donetta Davidson; Suzanne Staiert, deputy secretary of state; and Debra Johnson, Denver clerk and recorder. (SOS photo by Julia Sunny)

More than 900 Coloradans signed up to vote one week ago today, National Voter Registration Day, and almost half of them chose to be unaffiliated.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and his deputy, Suzanne Staiert, made media appearances as part of NVRD and some election offices, such as Arapahoe, El Paso and Denver counties, hosted registration events.

In all, 953 people registered to vote in Colorado on Sept. 26, according to Secretary of State data released Monday. Of that, 454 registered as unaffiliated, 285 as Democrat, 190 as Republican and the rest were third-party members. The five top counties with the most registrants were:

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams appears on “Good Morning Colorado” with anchors Megan Kelly and Kirk Yuhnke to talk about voter registration and participation. (SOS photo)

El Paso: 139

Denver: 128

Arapahoe: 113

Larimer: 100

Jefferson: 81

In addition, Boulder County registered 63 people and Adams and Douglas counties each registered 61.

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.

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