Wayne Williams hits the road again

Secretary of State Wayne Williams stands at the top of Molas Pass, 10,910 feet, in the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado this week, where he was visiting county clerks.  (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visited three southwestern counties this week to check in with clerks prior to this year’s midterm elections to see if they needed any help from his office.

Williams thanked the clerks for heading to the Denver metro area earlier this month to attend a training exercise called EPIC — Election Preparedness for Infrastructure and Cybersecurity. National and state cybersecurity officials attended the event, where clerks and county officials handled various Election Day scenarios thrown at them.

Ben Schler, the Secretary of State’s legal and policy manager, accompanied Williams on the trip. Schler, who grew up on a farm just outside of Durango, said he was happy to see the fall colors and to “make sure that we provide the clerks with the support they need.”

This week’s deadline for the clerks: Military and overseas ballots must go out by Saturday.

The secretary and Schler met with clerks in San Juan, San Miguel and Alamosa counties.

“I made a commitment when I  first ran for this office to visit every county every two years. So far, we have hit 61 counties in this cycle,” Williams said. “Colorado is incredibly beautiful, especially this time of the year with the leaves turning.”

Here’s a look at each visit:

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Secretary Williams’ war games, election style proves to be epic

Colorado Secretary of State shakes hands with Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen before her keynote speech at Colorado’s Election Preparedness for Infrastructure and Cybersecurity exercise Thursday. (DHS photo)

The role-playing was, well, EPIC.

When election and cybersecurity officials from Colorado and and other parts of the nation gathered for a training exercise, they were given assignments to play as various election disaster scenarios played out.

Misleading tweets that confuse voters. Equipment outages. Hackers.

Eagle County Clerk Regina O’Brien served as a county election director.

Dwight Shellman, the county support manager for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, plays the role of a reporter asking tough questions during a mock election disaster drill.  He is interviewing Tammy Patrick of Democracy Fund, while in the background is the SOS’s Steve Bouey. (SOS photo)

Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill portrayed her former employee, Dwight Shellman, who now is the county support manager for the Secretary of State’s office.

And Shellman assumed the identity of various Denver reporters, from the Colorado Sun’s John Frank to 9News’ Marshall Zellinger, asking tough questions of election officials.

“I out Marshalled Marshall,” Shellman boasted.

Welcome to war games, election style or, as the exercise was officially dubbed, EPIC — Election Preparedness for Infrastructure and Cybersecurity.

The goal, Secretary of State Wayne Williams said, was to help prepare Colorado election officials for the Nov. 6 election. Clerks, their staffers, county IT officials and others gathered in five separate rooms and were instructed to deal with the scenarios that were unfolding.

Read moreSecretary Williams’ war games, election style proves to be epic

Denver Rustlers meet again, head to State Fair in Pueblo

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne William mingled with fellow Denver Rustlers this morning in Greenwood Village before heading to the State Fair in Pueblo. From left to right, Rep. Dominque Jackson, D-Aurora, Williams, lobbyist Peggi O’Keefe and Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield. (SOS photo)

Few organizations bring folks from across the aisle together as much as the Denver Rustlers, a group of business, civic and political leaders who work to help the Colorado State Fair and the rural kids who show their animals there.

The Denver Rustlers mingled this morning in Greenwood Village before boarding three buses headed south to Pueblo.

State Sen. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, and his 2-year-old daughter Cora, at the Denver Rustlers event. (SOS photo)

“I’m always honored to spend the day with these people and see the young 4-H’ers and their animals at the fair,” said Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

“This is a proud Colorado tradition that brings people together from across the state.”

The event began at the Tavern Tech Center with lawmakers and lobbyists, City council members and congress members and more. The Rustlers wear distinctive shirts from Rockmount Ranch, courtesy of Mizel’s firm, MDC Holdings/Richmond American Homes Foundation, and straw cowboy hats donated by the Koncilja law firm.

“Sure, people get a little nervous putting that shirt on the first time, but this is one of the great bipartisan days of the year,” said Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield. “It’s great to invest in our young people, and it’s just as great to spend a day with people from all parties enjoying each other’s company with no political pressure at all.”

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Secretary Williams on 2020 census: “We want Colorado counted”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Gillian Winbourn and Rosemary Rodriguez of “Together We Count” today discussed efforts to ensure state residents get counted in the 2020 census. (SOS photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams told the founders of  “Together We Count” that he is committed to their efforts in getting residents to respond to the 2020 census.

The former El Paso County commissioner said he understands how important that information is for local government because a number of funding formulas – for transportation and human services, for example – are based on census data.

“We want people to be citizens when it comes to voting, but we still want an accurate census,” Williams said. “As a commissioner, I was active 10 years ago encouraging people to participate in the census, and I’m happy to do that again.

“We want Colorado counted.”

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Colorado’s county clerks contend with democracy and DRIVES

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams joined three members of the Arapahoe County Clerk’s office for a scenic photo outside the Salida SteamPlant where the Colorado County Clerks Association held its summer conference Aug. 20-22. From left to right, Williams, spokeswoman Haley McKean, Clerk Matt Crane and election manager Todd Davidson. (SOS photo)

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.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, back row, left, mingles with county clerks at the opening night reception for the clerks summer conference in Salida Aug. 20-22. Front row: Lincoln County’s Corrine Lengel, Yuma County’s Bev Wenger, and Baca County’s Sharon Dubois. Back row, Williams, Logan County’s Pam Bacon and Adams County’s Stan Martin. (SOS photo)

“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.

Read moreColorado’s county clerks contend with democracy and DRIVES