When it comes to elections, El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman can now boast opening the first 24-hour vehicle registration kiosk in the state and installing the largest ballot-drop box in Colorado – and possibly the country.
The kiosk opened one week ago today and someone took advantage of it at 1:50 a.m. the next day. Broerman joked that he’s not sure if a customer wanted to see if the kiosk truly was a 24-7 operation, or if he or she was doing some bar hopping and realized the car tags were expired.
As for what is Broerman is calling The MOAB— The Mother of All Ballot Boxes — it was a custom built and is 68 percent larger by volume than the largest industry box. That’s a whole lot box but it was needed for a whole lot of customers. Broerman said the 24-hour ballot box at East Library in Colorado Springs was so heavily used it had to be emptied four or five times a day.
When he talked with Fort Knox Ballot Box Co. he was told that the box at the library already was the biggest one the company makes. The company came up with a couple of custom designs.
“They offered to make an even bigger box than the one we selected but it was so massive I thought we were going to have to have an FAA-approved landing light on it,” Broerman said, with a laugh.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday for the new Elbert County Clerk and Recorder’s office, which features the first drive-up Motor Vehicle Department operation in the state.
That’s what happens when you move into a former bank building.
“Because it used to be a bank, it’s set up for customer service,” Elbert County Clerk staffer Sheryl Borden said.
The clerk and the treasurer’s office opened Tuesday for service. They used to operate out of the county administration building just down the road. Gone are the days of cramped motor vehicle counters and “commissioners looking over our shoulders,” joked Dallas Schroeder, Elbert county clerk and recorder.
“It is going to be a good service, it’s something that’s going to benefit not just the employees but it’s going to benefit the citizens as well,” Schroeder said. “We have more space, we have more motor vehicle counters, its just going to be a great service that we can offer.”
Schroeder, Williams, county commissioners, state Department of Revenue employees and others participated in the ribbon-cutting, which attracted a crowd. Williams talked about the benefit for elections.
“You’ve got the ability for folks to be able to come in, cast their ballot, register to vote, participate in the process and it is exciting to see the facility here and all its going to offer Elbert county voters as well as motor vehicle,” he said.
Just before the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Samuel Elbert building, visitors were warned about touching door jams and other objects that had just received a paint touch up just minutes before. The building is named after Samuel Hitt Elbert, who served as governor of the Colorado territory in the 1870s and later went on to serve as a Colorado Supreme Court justice. Elbert County, Mount Elbert, and the town of Elbert are all named after him.
The bank-turned-county office features a fireplace centered in the lobby, which prompted a zinger from the secretary of state.
“Hey Dallas,” he said, “is it true that on election night CNN will be here with the fireplace in the background?”
“They’re always invited,” Schroeder replied.
At that, county commissioner Chris Richardson mumbled, “We were hoping for Fox News,” which caused an eruption of laughter. Elbert County is the one of the — if not the — most Republican performing counties in the state.
Meanwhile, neighboring El Paso County on Friday will open the first 24-hour Motor Vehicle kiosk in the state, allowing patrons to handle their registration business around the clock. It will be located at the Union Town Center branch in northern Colorado Springs.
Williams praised both Elbert and El Paso counties, saying the innovation is a game-changer.
“These are levels of customer service you normally don’t get from government,” he said.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and his deputy, Suzanne Staiert, made media appearances as part of NVRD and some election offices, such as Arapahoe, El Paso and Denver counties, hosted registration events.
In all, 953 people registered to vote in Colorado on Sept. 26, according to Secretary of State data released Monday. Of that, 454 registered as unaffiliated, 285 as Democrat, 190 as Republican and the rest were third-party members. The five top counties with the most registrants were:
El Paso: 139
In addition, Boulder County registered 63 people and Adams and Douglas counties each registered 61.
The National Association of Secretaries of State in 2012 designated September as National Voter Registration Month with the fourth Tuesday in September set as National Voter Registration Day to encourage voter participation and increase awareness about state requirements and deadlines for voting.
Costilla County Clerk and Recorder Karen Garcia had never had a secretary of state visit her office — until Wayne Williams dropped by one year ago.
Williams visited three other county clerks that September day as part of his effort to check in on the elected officials, view their election set up and see if there is any way his office can help. The office published blogs about the other clerk visits, but wasn’t able to get a hold of Costilla County to check some details.
Fast forward to Wednesday when Williams visited Salida, where clerks from the southern region were holding training. Williams met two staffers from Costilla County. Costilla County? We wrote a blog about you, but couldn’t publish it because we had check out some final details.
“We kept looking for it,” staffer Miranda Esquibel said.
“No one answered any phone number we called,” she was informed, only to be told the number changed but the old one continued to ring, making people think it was still in service.
Most Colorado counties are holding elections this November, but to Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ dismay the turnout won’t be anything like last year’s presidential election, when 2.9 million Coloradans participated.
“Off-year elections” usually involve school board races and tax issues for local districts. Some cities are holding council elections.
“These are issues that can directly affect your property values,” Williams said. “Given how much is at stake, I think it’s absurd that people aren’t going to vote in the upcoming election.”
Williams also disputed claims of massive voter fraud.
“I’ve seen no evidence of millions of people voting illegally,” he told the League of Women Voters. “We have found instances of people voting in Colorado and other states at the same time, and we are investigating that.”
It was the secretary’s third talk on election issues in 10 days.