Denver pioneers election techniques

How cool to rack up so many awards for election innovation. Clerk and recorder Debra Johnson and elections director Amber McReynolds at one of Denver's 24 round-the-clock ballot boxes. (Photo by Alton Dillard)
How cool to rack up so many awards for election innovations. Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson and Denver elections director Amber McReynolds at one of Denver’s two dozen 24-hour ballot boxes. (Photo by Alton Dillard)

When it comes to voting, Denver is a pioneer, whether it’s convenient round-the-clock ballot boxes or ballot tracking.

The Denver Election Division  currently provides 24 round-the-clock ballot boxes where voters can drop off their ballots.  The boxes are in use now as voters drop off ballots for the Nov. 3 coordinated election. Other county clerks have followed suit. 

“We are a state-of-the-art election office that is one of the best in the country,” Denver elections director Amber McReynolds said. “We have spent significant time supporting counties across Colorado and the nation to export our ideas, innovations and service.  It is all worth it if we can improve the voting process for voters everywhere.  That is why it matters to us.”

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Secretary of State Wayne Williams visits Jeffco, Summit clerks

Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Faye Griffin, elections director Carrie Kellogg and Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the clerk's office on Friday.
Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Faye Griffin, elections director Carrie Kellogg and Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the clerk’s office on Friday.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Friday thanked Jefferson County residents going through training to be an election judge, saying the counties couldn’t conduct elections without their help.

Williams met the judges-in-training when he visited with Jefferson County Clerk Faye Griffin. He later visited Summit County Clerk Kathy Neal in Breckenridge.

“It was good to have him here,” Griffin said. “It’s good to let the counties know that the secretary of state is interested in helping them. ”

In addition to talking to the elections judges, she said  Williams met the staff and checked out Jeffco’s election facility. All Colorado counties are holding an election on Nov. 3.

Griffin took office in January but she’s hardly new to the job. She earlier served eight years as county clerk beginning in 1999.

Both Griffin and Neal said they discussed with Williams his experience with elections. He served as the El Paso County clerk and recorder before being elected secretary of state in 2014.

Summit County Clerk Kathy Neal and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams in Breckenridge on Friday.
Summit County Clerk Kathy Neal and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams in Breckenridge on Friday.

“That seems logical, to have someone who knows how elections works, ” Neal said.

She also praised the secretary of state’s elections division, a compliment Williams hears as he travels the state.

The secretary and the clerks also discussed the upcoming election on Nov. 3.

Only one statewide measure is on the ballot, Proposition BB, which The Denver Post says offers voters “a choice” on how to handle  $66.1 million in marijuana taxes collected in the first year of legal pot. Should lawmakers have permission to spend the money on school construction and other programs? Or should the state refund the money, giving most of it back to recreational pot growers and users?

Most counties also have on their ballots local school board races and issues from special districts or municipalities. Mineral is the only county that has just the statewide issue on the ballot.

 

 

 

 

Secretary of Wayne Williams visits two clerks in southwest Colorado

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visits with election officials in Durango today. From left to right: Crystal Tweet in the Durango municipal clerk's office, Municipal Clerk Amy Phillips, La Plata County elections administrator Erin Hutchins, Williams, La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Parker and Parker's chief deputy, Ashli Stuckman.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visits with election officials in Durango today. From left to right: Crystal Tweet in the Durango municipal clerk’s office, municipal clerk Amy Phillips, La Plata County elections administrator Erin Hutchins, Williams, La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Parker and Parker’s chief deputy, Ashli Stuckman.
In addition, Montezuma County Clerk and Recorder Kim Percell and Secretary of State Wayne Williams at her office in Cortez on Friday.
In addition, Montezuma County Clerk and Recorder Kim Percell and Secretary of State Wayne Williams at her office in Cortez on Friday.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Friday toured La Plata County’s elections warehouse, where materials are stored and where the folks who process mail ballots and verify voter signatures do their work when the busy season hits.

In addition, Williams visited with Montezuma County Clerk and Recorder Kim Percell, who delayed the start of her vacation so she could meet with the secretary in Cortez.

Colorado’s coordinated election is Nov. 3. Mail ballots go out next week.

Williams met with La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Parker and her staff at the elections office in Durango and later toured the warehouse. Parker said she and Amy Phillips, the Durango municipal clerk, work very closely together “which is why it was so important for Amy to meet the secretary.”

“Wayne is a good man,” said Parker, who also is president of the Colorado County Clerks Association. “I appreciate his openness to touring our office and our warehouse.”

Williams, who served one term as El Paso County clerk and recorder, took office in January as Colorado’s 38th secretary of state. He was the first sitting county election official elected as secretary of state. Williams has been traveling the state and meeting with clerks to see what assistance his office can provide

 

Colorado county clerks: thinking outside the box regarding the box

Logan County has gone to drive-by voting, with Clerk and Recorder Pam Bacon installing a new ballot drop box that allows voters to pull up and drop off their ballots.

Logan County Clerk and Recorder Pam Bacon demonstrates how the new drop box can be closed and locked for times when there are deadlines for official documents, like ballots or tax payments. (Photo courtesy of Sara Waite / Sterling Journal-Advocate)
Logan County Clerk and Recorder Pam Bacon demonstrates how the new drop box can be closed and locked. (Photo courtesy of Sara Waite / Sterling Journal-Advocate)

Bacon also got the OK from Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ office to make it a “multi-use box” so that county residents can drop off their motor-vehicle registrations.

Other county clerks also use 24-hour ballot boxes, which under secretary of state rules must be monitored by surveillance cameras with the data being preserved for 25 months.  It is illegal to drop off more than 10 ballots at a time, and the outside of the envelopes must be signed by the voter in order to  be counted, state  elections director Judd Choate said.

According to the Sterling-Journal Advocate, Bacon also reached out to the other county departments, with Treasurer Patty Bartlett believing the box would be useful for receiving tax payments. Bacon said residents can drop off correspondence for any county office, such as a letter to the county commissioners.

“Whatever is in there,'” Bacon told the newspaper, “we’ll make sure it gets to whatever county office it needs to.”

Here’s a look at ballot-box practices in some other counties, per their clerks or election officials:

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Secretary of State Wayne Williams swings through Las Animas, Huerfano and Custer counties

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams stopped by Trinidad Friday to visit with Clerk Peach Vigil, who took office in January. He's in the storage vault with the chief deputy, Shawn Bazanele, left, and Vigil, right. (Lynn Bartels)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams stopped by Trinidad Friday to visit with Clerk Peach Vigil, who took office in January. He’s in the storage vault with the chief deputy, Shawn Bazanele, left, and Vigil, right. (Lynn Bartels)

Three new county clerks, two homecoming parades and a dazzling array of fall colors — a fun day on the road Friday with Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Williams, who took office in January, is trying to visit with all new county clerks before the Nov. 3 coordinated election.  On Friday he visited Las Animas, Huerfano and Custer counties.

In Trinidad, he met with Las Animas County Clerk Peach Vigil. Asked about her nickname, she said she was a week old before her mother settled on the name “Patricia” but in the meantime she called her baby “Peaches.”

The nickname stuck. When Vigil started working for Las Animas County, the longtime clerk used to say, “Peach.” The shortened nickname stuck and Vigil put it on the ballot when she ran, otherwise she said even some family members wouldn’t have recognized her as “Patricia Vigil.”

Streets in Trinidad are paved with red bricks and it was there that we encountered our first homecoming parade.

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