The name is clunky — the Electronic Recording Technology Board. But its importance is hard to overstate — the board hands out grants to county clerks to update equipment that records property records, marriage licenses, mineral rights and more.
At Tuesday’s meeting at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, the board paid tribute to two outgoing members, Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane and Adams County Clerk Stan Martin.
Crane has served as the chairman since the enterprise operation was created through legislation in 2016. The measure also authorized clerks to charge a $2-a-document fee for five years to create a pool of money to help counties cover the cost of upgrades and purchases.
“It’s been fun to get this off the ground, considering where we were,” Crane said.
“I love my husband — we’ll be married 60 years next year. But I don’t know if I want to be home with him all the time,” said Faye Griffin, the outgoing clerk in Jefferson County.
“I’ll miss you all when I’m sitting on a beach next November,” said Hillary Hall, Boulder County’s term-limited clerk and recorder.
“Colorado is the leader in elections. I’m so proud of that,” said Bent County’s longtime clerk, Patti Nickell.
Most of the state’s departing county clerks gathered Saturday night at the Melting Pot in Louisville, where they were feted by the Colorado County Clerks Association. Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell, president of the CCCA, read a letter to her outgoing colleagues.
“Your commitment and sacrifice to your office, staff and citizens of your county is what public service is all about. The county clerk is the hub of the community for connection to their government, and with that came challenges, wonderful memories and a front seat for history,” she said.
“Please remember you will always be a part of us — that our shared experiences and mutual understanding will never dissipate.”
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.
Deputy Elections Director Hilary Rudy earlier this month went to pick up the public sector innovation award given to Colorado for the use of risk-limiting audits.
The awards dinner was held in McLean, Va., where vendors, local, state and federal government projects were recognized for reimagining public-sector IT.
The Public Sector Innovation category “focuses on transformative tech that is truly reinventing government — at the federal, state and local levels,” according to the Government Innovation Awards website. Colorado’s RLA process in August was recognized as being the gold standard for ensuring election results.
A risk-limiting audit is a procedure that provides strong statistical evidence that the election outcome is right and has a high probability of correcting a wrong outcome. Risk-limiting audits require election officials to examine and verify more ballots in close races and fewer ballots in races with wide margins.
The SOS office was nominated for the award by Free & Fair, a company that provides elections services and systems. They developed the software used in Colorado’s risk-limiting audit in the 2017 coordinated election.
“I enjoyed the opportunity to pick up the public sector innovation award on behalf of Colorado,” Rudy said. “It’s an honor to be recognized alongside these incredible innovation projects.”
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.
“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.
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.