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.
Another day, another exercise on cybersecurity for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, this time teaming up with the Denver FBI office and the University of Colorado Denver.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams joined with FBI Special Agent in Charge Calvin Shivers and CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell today in welcoming elected officials and candidates to a training event at the Tivoli Turnhalle. The half day seminar was designed to help them maintain a posture of awareness and protect themselves from cyber intrusion.
“We have with us today candidates, parties, and others because cybersecurity isn’t just limited to the actual election process,” Williams said, in his introduction.
“For a lot of individuals, when they hear a report of a hack, they don’t distinguish between the ballot and information that might have been obtained about a candidate or a party. So I appreciate your willingness to be here, your willingness to participate and, frankly, your willingness to actually show leadership in this area.”
Among those at Monday’s exercise were Martha Tierney, the attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party, Pam Anderson, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, and Tom Lucero, a former member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents.
Colorado’s county clerks gathered in Salida for their summer conference, combining educational workshops on various topics, such as election security, with lighthearted events, including visiting an arcade.
For some, the Colorado County Clerks Association conference was a bittersweet experience — more than one-fourth of the 64 county clerks will run their last election on Nov. 6. Some have decades of experience and have decided it is time to retire, others are term limited or choose not to stay in office.
“Working in the clerk’s office has been a wonderful, exciting ride,” said Moffat County Clerk Lila Herod, who began in 1989, eventually was elected clerk and now is term limited.
“I have been truly blessed to serve the citizens of Moffat County and to be in the company of the smartest, most dedicated, hardworking people in the world.”
Secretary of State Wayne Williams updated clerks on a variety of topics his office is handling.
“I served as El Paso County’s clerk and recorder so I understand what our clerks go through. They don’t just run elections. They record documents and register vehicles and more,” Williams said. “Our office is here to help them in any way we can.”
The clerks praised Williams and his staff for their efforts.