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.

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Secretary Williams, “you’ve run a tip-top operation”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, left, with Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, and two SOS staffers, elections director Judd Choate and IT director Trevor Timmons, during Friday’s meeting before the Joint Budget Committee. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams received plenty of praise during his final appearances before two legislative committees, where he highlighted the office’s achievements and challenges.

The El Paso County Republican presented his budget requests to the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee Friday morning, and later in the afternoon he discussed performance plans, regulatory and legislative agendas, and budget requests as part of the SMART Act hearing.

Legislative aide, Michael Templeton, who works for Sen. Lois Court, a Denver Democrat, center, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

“I’ve had the opportunity to work very closely with you and your office on a variety of issues over the years,” Sen. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, and the chairman of the Joint Budget Committee, told Williams.

“I have to say, you’ve run a tip-top operation.”

Lawmakers on the the Joint State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee were equally complimentary later that day.

“I just want to thank you for your years of service to Colorado and the excellent job you’ve done as our secretary of state and how hard I know you’ve worked to be bipartisan as much as you can be,” said Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver.

“That takes a lot to do the kind of work you’ve done and to try to work as hard as you have across the aisle and I absolutely appreciate it, so thank you.”

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International professionals visit CO Secretary of State

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Deputy Suzanne Staiert at his side lead a discussion with international visitors about elections in Colorado. (SOS photo)

International professionals from four continents visited with Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams Tuesday where they learned about the state’s nationally lauded election system. The participants hail from countries including Chile, Afghanistan, and South Sudan and are leaders in their fields of politics, business, and journalism.

“Coloradans vote at some of the highest rates in America because we make the process easy and fair, empower citizens to vote on taxes and other matters though initiatives and referenda, and instill confidence in the voters,” Williams said. “They know that their vote matters and that it will be counted.”

The participants, who are with the International Visitor Leadership Program,  visited Washington D.C. and Kansas City, Mo., before arriving in Denver. The IVLP is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program and has sought to build mutual understanding between the U.S. and other nations since its launch in 1940.

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