Thanks, Judd Choate, for your service

Two Colorado Secretary of State staffers, county support manager Dwight Shellman and elections director Judd Choate, at the National Association of State Election Directors conference Sunday. Choate is the outgoing president. (SOS photo)

The National Association of State Election Directors on Sunday thanked its outgoing president, Colorado’s election director Judd Choate.

The tribute came as NASED gathered in Washington, D.C., for its winter conference.

The association’s goal is to promote accessible, accurate and transparent elections across the country and U.S. territories. The role of NASED, pronounced “NASS ed,” has grown increasingly more important as concerns mount over cyber security and foreign meddling.

“It has been an extraordinary year,” Choate said. “NASED is an amazingly important organization, and it has been my honor to lead it this past year.”

Judd Choate, Colorado’s election director, received gifts from the National Association of State Election Directors which he led for the past year. (SOS photo)

Choate, who has served on the group’s executive committee the past five years, received a baseball glove and ball signed by the NASED board. He’s a baseball fanatic who was a scout with the Kansas City Royals in the 1990s.

The group also gave him a bobblehead replica of himself in a seersucker suit.

NASED met at the Fairmont Hotel where the National Association of Secretaries of State also was holding its winter conference. Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams serves NASS’ executive committee.

“Judd’s leadership of NASED has helped Colorado by giving us additional insights and opportunities,” Williams said. “I think he’s done a great job leading this important organization.”

Wayne Williams, other secretaries of state, honor Little Rock Nine

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and four members of the Little Rock Nine who were honored during the National Association of Secretaries of State conference Sunday in Washington, D.C. Left to right, Williams, Melba Pattillo Beals, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Elizabeth Eckford and Ernest Green. (SOS photo)

The story of integrating America’s schools is a personal one for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who often talks about growing up in Virginia and what inspired him to become involved in politics.

As part of that journey, Williams last year visited the Little Rock, Ark., high school where nine black students were denied entrance to all-white Central High School, forcing a very public conflict between President Eisenhower and the Arkansas governor in 1957.

On Sunday Williams got to shake the hands of four members of what became known as the Little Rock Nine when the group received the highest award possible from the National Association of Secretaries of State. The emotional ceremony reduced the Arkansas secretary of state to tears and had Williams leaping to his feet to give standing ovations to the four.

The Little Rock Nine has received plenty of honors — in 1999 President Bill Clinton awarded each one the Congressional Gold Medal.  But what makes the NASS award unique, said Ernest Green, who was present Sunday, is that is comes from elected officials who oversee most of the nation’s elections.

“You are the critical players,” he said, when he accepted the award. “It’s not who we elect to office but how we get that election done.”

Read moreWayne Williams, other secretaries of state, honor Little Rock Nine

West Virginia secretary of state ties one on for benefit of Wayne Williams

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (WVA photo) )

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner showed up at the National Association of Secretaries of State winter conference  Friday with clothing aimed at Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

“See this?” Warner asked, as he proudly showed off his green tie with the “M” logo for Marshall University.

Marshall’s Thundering Herd defeated the Colorado State Rams 31-28 in the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque last December.

The two secretaries of state waged a friendly bet beforehand: Each would make a $50 donation to a local food bank in the name of the winning team.

“Just make that check out in honor of Marshall Thundering Herd. Send photos — you’ll be a hero in Huntington,” Warner texted Williams afterward. “Then, even you can say, ‘We are all MARSHALL!’”

So Williams got a tiny taste of his own medicine. Two years ago at NASS’ winter conference in D.C., Williams showed up in a Denver Broncos T-shirt, fresh from watching the Super Bowl parade right outside his office in Denver. He wore some kind of Broncos paraphernalia for three straight days.

The secretary of state who had to grin and bear it was North Carolina’s Elaine Marshall. She and Williams also had made a food-bank wager.

Secretary Williams addresses “this new primary we’re all so worried about”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams is flanked by Pam Cirbo and Carol Waller before the start of the Cherry Creek Republican Women’s lunch on Tuesday. (SOS photo)

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.

Last week, Williams addressed the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s legislative committee about the impacts of Proposition 108, which voters approved in 2016. He’ll be back at the chamber next week speaking to a larger group on the same topic.

On Tuesday, he spoke to the Cherry Creek Republican Women. When member Mary Wenke introduced Williams, she said he was going to talk about “this new primary we’re all so worried about.”

Read moreSecretary Williams addresses “this new primary we’re all so worried about”

Go Code Colorado: another year of data-driven competition

Simon Tafoya, the policy director for Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Secretary of State Wayne Williams, at the Go Code Colorado challenge kickoff Wednesday night in Denver (SOS photo)

Colorado’s funkiest and most fun data contest — Go Code Colorado — kicked off Wednesday night, marking the fifth year that the Secretary of State’s office has invited creative minds to use public information to build a product that helps businesses.

“We work hard to make data available and usable for Colorado businesses,” Secretary of State Wayne Williams said in his opening remarks.

Previous winners have developed a range of projects. One helped small farmers locate farmers markets and price information. Another created a platform for companies to connect with potential employees based on personality match.

Sen. Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat, heaped praise on the Secretary of State’s office and the award-winning Go Code Colorado program during last year’s competition.

“This is, in my opinion, the epitome of how we should be thinking about government moving forward,” he said. “We should be thinking about how to take the assets and the innovation of the new industries that are popping up around tech and see how that expertise and that talent solves some of the problems that maybe government can’t do on its own.”

Read moreGo Code Colorado: another year of data-driven competition