For the first time ever, county clerks will mail primary ballots to unaffiliated voters, a measure that is causing consternation statewide and keeping Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams busy on the speakers’ circuit.
In December, he spoke to the League of Women Voters in La Plata County.
When they were little boys, they lived across the state from each other but occasionally played together at the state Capitol when their dads brought them to work.
These days, Chase Penry and David Brophy live in the metro area and face each other on the basketball court. Chase attends Cherry Creek High School while David goes to Arapahoe High School.
The teens’ dads are former Sen. Josh Penry, who was from Grand Junction, and former state Sen. Greg Brophy, who was from Wray.
“It’s a small world after all,” the senior Brophy said. “As a parent in sports, it really changes the nature of the game when you know and truly like the opposition kids. You want him to play well, but his team to lose!”
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and his staff got great reviews from those who attended the Colorado County Clerks Association winter conference, and the secretary was equally complimentary.
“I love working with the clerk and recorders,” he told conference-goers. “You’re not afraid to follow the law, and that’s true whether there’s a recall in Custer County or with someone who submits petitions.”
The three-day conference in Colorado Springs concluded last week, and the clerks will gather again in the summer. The conferences offer workshops on a variety of topics that clerks deal with, including vehicle title registration and recording documents.
County clerks run elections, but the secretary of state is the chief elections officer, and that’s where the SOS comes in to play at conferences. Secretary of State staffers participate in workshops on a variety of topics, including security, ballot access and changes to election laws.
Routt County Clerk Kim Bonner said the “wonderful people at the SOS office” are her staff’s “lifeline.”
Eagle County Clerk Regina O’Brien praised the SOS and her fellow clerks.
“At every conference, I glean tips, tricks and lessons learned that help me continually improve our processes. I love being able to share our practices as well in a effort to help others across the state,” she said. “In the current political climate, it’s inspiring and encouraging to see so many working towards the same shared goal — excellence!”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.