Who knew that when Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visited Arrupe Jesuit High School last year to present a voter registration award it would lead to reducing a backlog at the SOS this year?
During the visit to the north Denver school, Williams learned that Arrupe Jesuit offers students a unique corporate work study program where students are employed at a variety of places, including nonprofits, law firms and health centers. The Secretary of State’s office decided to participate.
That’s how Dinell and Jamilee, freshmen at Arrupe, ended up at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office working under the supervision of Shannon Bee, the bingo-raffle program manager.
The pair has gained skills in data entry and verifying scanned documents. Their salaries from the state go toward their tuition.
“It’s been rewarding to work in a state agency and make sure that the people of Colorado are served efficiently,” Dinell said. “The work I’ve done for the past few months has set the office ahead a whole year.”
That’s because the two have been able to reduce a backlog that was creating problems, said Gary Zimmerman, the Secretary of State’s chief of staff. If documents aren’t scanned and entered into the system they can’t be quickly searched.
“Thanks to these Arrupe Jesuit students, we have continued to improve the customer service that the Williams administration has provided to the public,” Zimmerman said.
Each year, employees across all divisions at the Colorado Secretary of State go through training to improves processes and provide even better services.
It’s called “LEAN training,” and the Business and Licensing Division just finished up three rounds. The teams focused on different areas within the Business and Licensing division: the notary application rejection rate, bingo-raffle electronic filing adoption rate, and the commercial registered agent or CRA filing process.
“We have come a long way in teaching our staff to use lean tools and ‘speak’ a common language of process improvement,” said Mike Hardin, the director of Business and Licensing.
Each team presented an “as-is” process map that also identified issues and opportunities for improvements. They then developed a “to-be” process map that shows a future improved process and generated a gap analysis to document the changes that need to be made. These three steps are the core of the LEAN methodology used to train the staff.
It’s all part of the Colorado Secretary of State’s reputation for giving Colorado businesses the tools to thrive.
Visitors from Hungary and India visited Secretary of State Wayne Williams today to learn more about how Colorado elections are run.
With the midterm election Tuesday, the international guests were eager to ask questions about the process. Among the Hungarians were members of FIDESZ party, the ruling party in Hungary for the last eight years, parliament members, and communications directors for various offices of the Hungarian government.
“Mail ballots are strange to us, we don’t have that in Hungary,” one guest said.
Williams said mail ballots make voting more accessible.
Another question: “Would online voting make young people vote more?”
Williams said he doesn’t trust the security of it yet, but he did explain how some military and overseas voters are able to vote online, through an encrypted system.
“Some people don’t believe someone who works on a submarine should be allowed to vote,” he said. “We do.”
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.
“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.
“Colorado is the state that has the highest percentage of registered voters in the United States of America,” Williams told students, which resulted in the crowd erupting with cheers.
Currently, there are 3.2 million active voters in Colorado, according to figures collected by the Secretary of State’s office through August. September’s numbers are expected to be released next week.
Michael Ankner, 2018’s American Legion Eagle Scout of the year and an Inspire student leader at East, told his peers about his recent trip to Mongolia and that the ability to vote there is scarce.
“I want you to know how important it is to participate in our democratic processes and how it really does help improve the way our government functions and makes things better for everyone,” Ankner said.
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.
Williams challenged the students to register, enticing them with the Eliza Pickrell Routt award, given to high schools where at least 85 percent of eligible seniors register to vote.
“One of the things I want to do is come back here when you reach the 85 percent of registered seniors because if you do that, you will join a number of other high schools in getting the Eliza Pickrell Routt award,” Williams said. “I challenge you to reach that level. It is how we make a difference in this world.”
Colorado Secretary of State efforts to boost voter registration include:
Text to vote. Eligible Coloradans can simply text the word “Colorado” or “CO” to “2Vote” (28683) on their smartphones, and then open the link to the SOS online voter registration and election information site.
Online registration. Colorado in 2010 became the fourth state to allow online voter registration and www.govotecolorado.com has processed more than 2 million transactions.
High School registration. The office hands out the Eliza Pickrell Routt award to high schools where at least 85 percent of eligible seniors have registered or preregistered to vote.