SOS staffer attends Def Con conference, says Colorado looks good

Colorado election officials at Def Con’s voting hacking village. Left to right: Dwight Shellman, county support manager for the Secretary of State, Amber McReynolds, Denver elections director, and Jennifer Morrell, Democracy Fund consultant. (Photo by Joe Kiniry, who led the team at Free & Fair that helped develop software for Colorado’s first-in-the country risk-limiting audit. )

Secretary of State staffer Dwight Shellman returned from a hacking convention with the message that although Colorado’s elections are secure from the types of voting machine and website attacks demonstrated at the conference, state and local officials need to remain vigilant.

The 26th annual Def Con conference featured a large number of “villages” in which attendees learned about and sometimes attempted to hack a broad range of technologies and platforms, including automobile software and cannabis cultivation technologies. .

Def Con’s voting village logo. (Def Con photo)

Shellman, the county support manager for the state Elections Division, focused most of his attention on the Voting Village, which invited participants to test “more than 30 pieces of electronic voting equipment” and “defend or hack mock office network and voter registration databases,” according to Def Con’s website.

He witnessed kiddie hackers gain access — but said the whole story wasn’t reported.

Read moreSOS staffer attends Def Con conference, says Colorado looks good

Secretary Williams: the eastern plains and EPIC

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with members of the Phillip County clerk’s office: elections deputy Mary Robert, accounts payable clerk Debbie Bennet, Clerk and Recorder Beth Zilla, and clerk deputy Val Danielson. (SOS photo)
Morgan County Clerk Susan Bailey and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams in front of a quilt featuring communities in the county. (SOS photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams headed to the eastern plains this week to visit county clerks in Morgan and Phillip counties where he talked about the upcoming election, the one that just ended and a table top election security exercise that is generating national attention.

He met with Morgan County Clerk Susan Bailey in Fort Morgan Thursday and Phillips County Clerk Beth Zilla in Holyoke Friday.

“Thank you for stopping by, it’s always great to see you!” Bailey wrote on her Facebook page afterward. “Your support of our election process is so appreciated.”

“He’s such a down-to-earth guy,” Zilla said.

Bailey will see Williams again on Sunday when they head to Salida for the Colorado County Clerks Association’s summer conference. Zilla is unable to attend.

Read moreSecretary Williams: the eastern plains and EPIC

Denver’s Amber McReynolds to take on a new election role

Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Denver Elections director Amber McReynolds, who will be assuming a new kind of election role this month.

Denver ‘s elections director Amber McReynolds announced last week that she will be resigning her post to take on a new role as the executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition. McReynolds has served in the City & County of Denver Clerk & Recorder office for the last 13 years, and the last seven as the director of elections.

During her tenure, she has overseen pivotal elections for the city of Denver and developed innovative techniques in election administration which earned the office numerous awards. McReynolds is most proud of Denver’s first-in-the-nation innovations Ballot TRACE and eSign which have both been adopted by other counties throughout the country.

Since Ballot TRACE was implemented in 2009, around 200,000 voters have started to use this customer service application to track their ballots and receive updates on the election, she said.  As a result, visibility of the election process has increased and Denver Elections has experienced a 90 percent reduction in calls, McReynolds said.

“I have been blessed to lead an incredible and talented team at Denver elections to transform the office into an exceptional office that is now nationally and internationally recognized,” McReynolds said in a video the office released when she announced her resignation. “Serving the city I love in a field that I am deeply passionate about is what has made my time here so special and inspirational.”

Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson thanked McReynolds for her service and dedication to Denver elections in a recent news release.

“Amber played a critical role in modernizing the election model in Colorado along with many efficiencies and innovations for Denver. We will miss her and her visionary leadership, and wish her the best of luck in her new endeavor,” Johnson said.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams noted that McReynolds is recognized nationally for her efforts.

National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition (NVAHI) focuses on removing barriers to voter participation by encouraging states to adopt a Vote at Home System or universal vote by mail. Moreover, NVAHI believes that “nothing is as fundamental — or as foundational — to the success of our country, as ensuring that when elections happen, as many votes as possible can and do participate.”

McReynolds will leave Denver Elections on Aug 15, but plans to be based in Denver for her new job.

Wednesday is Colorado Day

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams during his trip to visit the county clerk and recorders this summer in Jackson and Grand counties. (SOS photo)

On Aug 1, 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant signed a proclamation of statehood for Colorado, making our colorful state the 38th member of the Union. Now, 142 years later, many across Colorado are celebrating with free admissions to parks on Aug 6, cooking up a classic Colorado meal or by attending any number of the cultural events in Denver this week.

Chris Cash, the charities program manager for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. (SOS photo)

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne will celebrate Colorado Day at the History Colorado Center at 10 a.m. Wednesday. (Here’s a list of events at History Colorado for the day.)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has lived in Colorado for 26 years and enjoys life with his wife Holly and family in Colorado Springs. He said the beautiful weather, friendly people, and “can-do” attitude drew him to Colorado as a recent University of Virginia law school graduate.

Colorado native Chris Cash, the charities program manager for the SOS, grew up in Boulder and enjoys spending time in the great outdoors.

“Like everybody else, I love the mountains,” Cash said. “As a youngster, I especially valued skiing. Now that I have no knees and I-70 is impassable it’s practically irrelevant, so I find other ways to enjoy the outdoors.”

Among other Secretary of State staffers, enthusiasm also runs high for the Centennial State.  Just last month, Tim Griesmer and Ben Schler hiked to the summit of San Luis Peak as part of the #UChooseCO campaign.

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Another election, another risk limiting audit for Colorado’s county clerks

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams watches Friday as two staffers with Denver Elections, Drake Rambke, and Stuart Clubb, indicate where ballots were pulled as part of a risk-limiting audit to ensure machines correctly tabulated the way a voter marked a ballot. (SOS photo)

For the second election in a row, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has overseen a risk-limiting audit designed to catch mistakes if they happened when ballots were tabulated.

The audit of the June 26 primary election involved 20, 10-sided dice, a variety of election officials from across the nation and Colorado county clerks excited to proclaim their results on social media.

Rudy Santos, chief deputy clerk for the Weld County clerk’s offices, watches as election judges Stacey Kjeldgaard, left, a Republican, and Lyn Nelson, a Democrat, conduct their risk-limiting audit in Weld County on Saturday. (SOS photo)

“WooHoo!! Jeffco Risk-Limiting Audit completed!! 263 (ballots) with NO discrepancies!” the Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder’s office tweeted Saturday.

“The purpose for all this is so the voters can have trust and confidence in the system,” Williams said.

“There are some people who go into denial whenever they don’t win. ‘Everybody I talked to voted for me. How can I possibly not have won?’ This is part of providing that assurance to folks.”

Some counties are still in the midst of their audits, while others completed theirs last week.

Read moreAnother election, another risk limiting audit for Colorado’s county clerks