Secretary Wayne Williams wishes you and your family a merry Christmas

A very young Wayne Williams, his brother Brent and sister Charisse at Christmas in Virginia. (Williams photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams grew up in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, but he certainly dressed like someone who would eventually  live more than half of his life in the West.

“My wife Holly and I wish everyone the best that Christmas and the holidays have to offer,” Williams said. “We’re thrilled to be able to spend it with our four grown children, one daughter-in-law, and our granddaughter.”

The Secretary of State’s office will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, but you can still access most operations online, from updating your voter registration to establishing or renewing your business registration.

“While you’re visiting family, it’s a great time to remind folks to register or update your voter registration,” Williams said

Colorado county clerks hope lawmakers fix early-voting rules

Members of the Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission watch the clip from VICE News about the Secretary of State’s ” war-games, election style,” exercise in September. Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane, second from left, was prominently featured in the show. (SOS Photo)

County clerks say a state law that dictates how many early-voting election facilities they must operate should be changed to allow local governments to make that decision.

They made their appeal Wednesday during the Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission meeting, the last one under outgoing Secretary of State Wayne Williams. He assembled the group in 2016 to provide feedback on elections.

The clerks have argued through several elections that the number of voters who visit the Voter Service and Polling Centers, or VSPCs, particularly in the first week they are open, doesn’t make sense because of the low turnout. Clerks would like to devote the resources  where they need them.

Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon noted that her in-person voting center is the courthouse in Sterling, but she is required to open two additional facilities in the county on Election Day.

“I had 20 people at one location and six at the other,” she said. “Those two extra locations short me where I need hands the most, which is at the county office.”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Michael Valdez with the Special District Association, who serves on the Bipartisan Election Advisory Committee. Behind them is Melissa Polk, an attorney in the SOS’ elections division. (SOS photo)

Williams also discussed Colorado’s record turnout in the mid-term election — second in the nation behind Minnesota — and his office’s nationally lauded efforts on election security.

“Our clerks did a phenomenal job. Our staff did a phenomenal job as well,” Williams said. “I want to say thank you to all of them for that.”

Douglas County Clerk Merlin Klotz returned the compliment.

“Where Colorado stands as far as the most secure place to vote speaks for the entire team and the job you’ve done,” he told Williams.

Read moreColorado county clerks hope lawmakers fix early-voting rules

Longtime Colorado Secretary of State employee to retire

Senior systems manager Brenda Lavely retired today after working for nearly 32 years at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. (SOS photo)

Senior systems manager Brenda Lavely ends her long and accomplished tenure at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office at the end of the year when she retires after serving under eight secretaries  over a span of nearly 32 years.

At her retirement ceremony today, Lavely was feted with two huge cakes, greeting cards and heartfelt well wishes.

“It’s not all been fun,” she said to laughter, “but there are so many of you who are really close to my heart. It’s bittersweet for me but it’s time. I want to thank you all for being my friend.”

Among those who attended the retirement ceremony was former Deputy Secretary of State Bill Hobbs, who retired in 2011 after serving five secretaries of state over 12 years.

Lavely has participated in the transformation of the office from paper forms and lines out the door to automation. She has impacted the lives of hundreds by making sure the data center operations run smoothly, managing the help desk to provide internal customer support, and being involved in the design and construction of the existing agency data center.

“Brenda is one of those people who will do whatever is needed to get the job done well,” said Chief Information Officer Trevor Timmons. “She has a long track record of helping people who don’t even know what they need get what they need.”

Read moreLongtime Colorado Secretary of State employee to retire

Arrupe Jesuit High students learn skills at Secretary of State’s office

Dinell, an Arrupe Jesuit High School student who has a work study job at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. (SOS photo)

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.

Darleen Herrera, an investigator in the Colorado Secretary of State’s bingo-raffle division, and Jamilee, a work study student from Arrupe Jesuit High School. (SOS photo)

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.

Read moreArrupe Jesuit High students learn skills at Secretary of State’s office

Recording board says farewell to Adams, Arapahoe clerks

The Electronic Recording Technology Board at its meeting Tuesday at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. It is the last meeting for chairman Matt Crane, right, the outgoing Arapahoe County clerk. From left to right, board treasurer Gary Zimmerman, the SOS’ chief of staff; member Susan Corliss, the Kit Carson County clerk and recorder;  Charles Calvin with the Colorado Bar Association, Michelle Batey, the executive director of the ERTB; and Crane. (SOS photo)

The name is clunky — the Electronic Recording Technology Board. But its importance is hard to overstate — the board hands out grants to county clerks to update equipment that records property records, marriage licenses, mineral rights and more.

At Tuesday’s meeting at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, the board paid tribute to two outgoing members, Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane and Adams County Clerk Stan Martin.

Crane has served as the chairman since the enterprise operation was created through legislation in 2016.  The measure also authorized clerks to charge a $2-a-document fee for five years to create a pool of money to help counties cover the cost of upgrades and purchases.

“It’s been fun to get this off the ground, considering where we were,” Crane said.

Read moreRecording board says farewell to Adams, Arapahoe clerks