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

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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Chauncey Billups: Denver’s “Big Shot”

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and former Mayor Wellington Webb, left, and NBA standout Chauncey Billups and his wife Piper, right, flank Billups’ portrait that was unveiled Tuesday at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. (Photo by Josh Miller/Special to the SOS)

Hometown hero Chauncey Billups credited his family and his community for his successes on and off the basketball court when his photograph was unveiled this week at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library.

The NBA all-star said he plans to bring his daughters to see the library when they are home from college for the holidays and he urged others to visit the library at 2401 Welton St.

Basketball star Chauncey Billups pays tribute to Denver’s first black mayor, Wellington Webb. (Photos by Evan Semón Photography @evansemonphotography #denverEvan)

“My great great grandkids are going to be able to come here and see their old, old man,” Billups said.

“I never dreamed this big, to have something like this. … I’m so proud of where I’m from and who raised me. I appreciate you all supporting me over the years and I love you back.”

He also thanked former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and Webb’s wife, former state Rep. Wilma Webb, for their efforts in pushing for the construction of the library, where a portion is dedicated to making sure Denver and Colorado’s rich black history is not lost.

“You talk about people who impacted me as a kid?” Billups said. “Having Mayor Webb being a black mayor from the neighborhood instilled in us kids we could do anything.”

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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.

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Our county clerks: “Because I knew you I have been changed for good.”

Four of Colorado’s departing county clerks share a laugh at a clerks party Saturday night in the metro area. They are, from left to right, San Miguel County Clerk Kathleen Erie, Moffat County Clerk Lila Herod, Otero County Clerk Sharon Sisnroy, and Broomfield’s Jim Candelarie. (SOS photo)

They laughed.

“I love my husband — we’ll be married 60 years next year. But I don’t know if I want to be home with him all the time,” said Faye Griffin, the outgoing clerk in Jefferson County.

They envied.

“I’ll miss you all when I’m sitting on a beach next November,” said Hillary Hall, Boulder County’s term-limited clerk and recorder.

Longtime Jefferson County elected official Clerk Faye Griffin and her husband Walter at a party Saturday for departing clerks. (SOS photo)

They cried.

“Colorado is the leader in elections. I’m so proud of that,” said Bent County’s longtime clerk, Patti Nickell.

Most of the state’s departing county clerks gathered Saturday night at the Melting Pot in Louisville, where they were feted by the Colorado County Clerks Association. Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell, president of the CCCA, read a letter to her outgoing colleagues.

“Your commitment and sacrifice to your office, staff and citizens of your county is what public service is all about. The county clerk is the hub of the community for connection to their government, and with that came challenges, wonderful memories and a front seat for history,” she said.

“Please remember you will always be a part of us — that our shared experiences and mutual understanding will never dissipate.”

Read moreOur county clerks: “Because I knew you I have been changed for good.”