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.

Read moreInternational professionals visit CO Secretary of State

Secretary Williams and Monty Python

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams addressed the elections staff Wednesday, a day after the general election. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams this week congratulated his elections staff on their work and asked them to help make the incoming secretary as successful as he has been.

Colorado set a record turnout for a midterm election, although ballots are still being counted.

“You guys did a phenomenal job,” the secretary said. “Thank you.”

On another Nov. 6, in 1990, Coloradans elected Republican Hank Brown to the U.S. Senate and re-elected Democrat Roy Romer governor. On this Nov. 6, Democrats shattered the state’s reputation as a ticket-splitter, electing Democrats to every statewide constitutional office.

Among the victors: Jena Griswold, who nixed Williams’ bid for a second term.

“The new secretary is going to need your support and help because that’s the only way new secretaries are able to do it,”  said Williams, who was elected to the office in 2014.

Read moreSecretary Williams and Monty Python

Nov. 6 went “extraordinarily well” — from an election official’s standpoint

Look, it’s election staffers at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office and man did they do a great job this year! From left to right, deputy elections director Hilary Rudy, elections director Judd Choate and Kris Reynolds with campaign finance. (SOS photo)

The two top election staffers in the Colorado Secretary of State’s office praised colleagues Wednesday for their behind-the-scenes work that led to the successful general election on Tuesday.

“We ran a really fantastic election yesterday,” elections director Judd Choate said to those assembled outside his office.

Among the Colorado Secretary of State staffers listening to a speech about how well Tuesday’s election went were, in the foreground, Joel Albin and Jeff Mustin, behind him, with ballot access, and Steve Ward on the phone talking to voters calling in with questions. (SOS photo)

In fact, the bipartisan attorneys who hang out in the Secretary of State’s office on election day handling reports from their folks in the field conceded the day was a bit boring.

That was  just fine with Choate and his deputy director, Hilary Rudy.

“We had a great election, a secure election,” Choate said.

“One of the things about working in elections is you get notoriety or publicity when things go badly. That’s when people pay attention to elections. They don’t really think about the people behind the curtain,” he said. “I just want you all to know that we appreciate you and I think all of the citizens of Colorado appreciate all of your work.”

Read moreNov. 6 went “extraordinarily well” — from an election official’s standpoint

Wayne Williams’ bittersweet day

Republican Wayne Williams, Colorado’s secretary of state. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, widely regarded as one of the best election chiefs in the country, on Tuesday lost his re-election bid to Democrat Jena Griswold.

Here is the letter he penned to the staff at 12:20 this morning:

Dear Colleagues: 

By the time you read this in the morning, most of you will be aware that the administration of the 2018 general election went extraordinarily well.  We had record turnout and voters across the state were able to easily participate and our election processes ran wonderfully.

Unfortunately for me, the results in my election were not what I desired.  Jena and I spoke last night and plan to meet soon to discuss the transition that will occur on January 8.

Today I’m visiting with Brazilian election observers in Colorado Springs so I will be out of the office.  I’ll be back on Thursday to prepare for the risk limiting audit.

It has been the honor of a lifetime to work with you for the past four years.  Together we have built the best Secretary of State office in the nation. I’m proud of all we’ve done as a team and wish the very best for each of you during the next term.

Very truly yours,

Wayne