Bold ideas from Boulder County’s elections division

The coasters in action at a Boulder bar that contain voting info for residents of Boulder County. (Matt Benjamin, Facebook photo)

Bolder Boulder refers to a race, but can accurately be applied to the Boulder County elections division, too. This year,the division is giving away coasters, bookmarks, posters and even temporary tattoos that contain election information.

Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams during a recent visit to her office in Boulder.

“Our office takes voter outreach seriously, and that means reaching voters in unconventional ways and unconventional places,” said Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall.

“By conducting our outreach in a variety of channels we are helping reinforce the message that voting is a priority. It helps the voter engage in the process, check their registration, and puts election information at their fingertips in a variety of settings.”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams praised Hall and other clerks for their efforts to boost voter registration and turnout. “There’s a reason we’ve got the highest voter registration in the country, and we’re tops in turnout, too, and innovate ideas such as this are part of our success story.

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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.”

An abundance of appreciation for the Colorado Secretary of State staff

SOS staff enjoying the perks of employee appreciation week. (SOS photo)

It’s hard work to run an office as seamless as the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. Once a year, the Human Resources Department holds employee appreciation week to show thanks to staffers for all their efforts throughout the year.

Each day this week, activities were offered such as daily walks, trivia questions, food and more:

Monday: The week kicked off with “Statey” award ballots, where the staff nominates their colleagues for various awards, and try to solve puzzles about the office and employees.

Bagels and coffee were served for breakfast on Tuesday. (SOS photo)

Trivia question of the day — Who won the coveted “Sunshine Award” in last year’s Statey Awards? Carla Moore, in the Finance Department and she’s been beaming even brighter ever since.

Tuesday: Employees were treated to bagels, cream cheese, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate for breakfast.

Trivia question of the day — Which month contains the most days that our office is closed (not including weekends)? November.

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Secretary Williams accepts award from Colorado Nonprofit Association

Michael Hartman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, center, on Tuesday accepted awards from Renny Fagan, right, the president and CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association, at an association workshop at the Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel. (SOS photo)

As a statewide elected official, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams is regularly asked to present awards during the Colorado Nonprofit Association conferences, but the tables were turned Tuesday when it was Williams up on stage accepting an award from CEO Renny Fagan.

He joined three state lawmakers and another state agency, the Colorado Department of Revenue, who also were honored with Impact Awards for their help passing a bill this year that allows Colorado taxpayers the opportunity to donate all or part of their tax refund to any nonprofit registered in Colorado.

Three lawmakers share a laugh before being honored Tuesday for their work on a bill that allows Coloradans to donate part or all of their income-tax refund to any registered nonprofit. From left to right, Reps. Jim Wilson, R-Salida, and Chris Hansen, D-Denver, and Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver. (SOS photo)

“I think one of the things that Mike Hartman over at the Department of Revenue and I have a common is we’re looking for ways in government to say ‘yes’ as opposed to ways to say ‘no.’ I think both of us are very proud to be a part of this process,” Williams said.

This time, the secretary did not break down.

Also honored was Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver, and Reps. Jim Wilson, R-Salida, and Chris Hansen, D-Denver, who sponsored Senate Bill 141 in the 2018 legislative session.  SB 141 authorizes a new line on the tax form for 2020 called the “Donate to a Colorado Nonprofit Fund,” which allows Colorado taxpayers to donate part or all of their income-tax refund to any nonprofit registered in Colorado.

The effort was several years in the making.

“We’re all here celebrating a kind of a Super Bowl victory, but we had a couple of losing seasons in this deal,” Wilson said, of his and Court’s initial efforts. “A liberal lady and a conservative cowboy working together, what could go possibly go wrong with that deal?”

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Coloradans celebrate Taiwan

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams helps the Republic of China celebrate its 107th birthday, along with Director General Jerry Chang and Congressman Mike Coffman, who represents a number of Coloradans with ties to Taiwan. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, Congressman Mike Coffman and others gathered Friday night in Denver to celebrate Double Ten Day commemorating the events that led to the creation of Taiwan, America’s close friend and ally.

“The United States has been, is and will always be Taiwan’s closest partner,” said Director General Jerry Chang, with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Denver.

Ian Silverii, the director of ProgressNow, and Shirley Chang, with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Denver, at the Double Ten celebration Friday night. (SOS photo)

When his assistant, Shirley Chang, who is no relation, introduced the secretary of state she got a laugh from the crowd. She called Williams “our good friend” and said he was “most popular.”

Williams mentioned his visit to Taiwan a year ago, and how impressed he was with the nation.

“Taiwan is an example of the type of leadership and freedom that we all seek throughout the world,” he said.

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