Colorado’s county clerks: the rock stars of democracy

The Colorado Secretary of State’s elections director, Judd Choate; Jack Arrowsmith, executive director of the Statewide Internet Portal Authority; and state Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver, at the Colorado County Clerks Association conference in Snowmass Village. Court on Monday received an award from the CCCA. (SOS photo)

By Lynn Bartels and Julia Sunny

A state senator on Monday praised Colorado’s 64 county clerks, saying they’re the reason Colorado is a “beacon of how elections should be done.”

“I really believe the county clerks are the rock stars of democracy,” said Denver Democrat Lois Court. “I know you all work your little tails off … and I salute you for everything you do.”

Court was one of three lawmakers honored by the Colorado County Clerks Association, which is holding its summer conference in Snowmass Village. The association also honored Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose, and Rep. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, and presented an award to Logan County Attorney Alan Samber, for his work on a bill that involved land title registrations.

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La Plata elections director wins county clerks’ award

With county clerks standing behind her, La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Parker reads her letter nominating her elections director, Erin Hutchins, for an award from the Colorado County Clerks Association. (SOS photo)

The Colorado County Clerks Association today honored an elections administrator known to greet challenging tasks with an “OK boss, we’ve got this” mantra.

Erin Hutchins was nominated for the Michelle Burton Excellence in Elections Service Award by her boss, La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Parker.

“Erin’s passion for elections is profound. She loves the challenge and is always willing to take on more,” Parker wrote in her nominating letter to Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon, president of the clerks association.

Erin Hutchins.

The award honors “those who demonstrate love and extra devotion to the election process.” The other finalists were from Weld and Larimer counties.

“This year we are implementing a new recording system, election system and redistricting,” Parker wrote. “Erin is involved with all of these projects. She never complains about working additional hours or skipping lunch. She will say, ‘OK boss, we’ve got this!'”

The presentation was made at the Colorado County Clerks Association’s summer conference in Snowmass Village, which ends Wednesday.

An emotional Parker accepted the award for Hutchins, who was too busy to attend the conference.

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Happy trails to Tustin Amole

“Tustin and I are proof that you can be on different sides of the political spectrum and remain close friends. However, I still remember the shock in her voice when she said, ‘You voted for Bill Owens?'”

Five former staffers for the Rocky Mountain News gathered this week to pay tribute to Tustin Amole. After she left the Rocky, Tustin became spokeswoman for the Cherry Creek School District, a job she is retiring from this month. Left to right: Kim Young, Deb Goeken, Amole, Tonia Twichell and Lynn Bartels.

My very good friend Tustin Amole retires at the end of this month as the spokeswoman for the Cherry Creek School District.

Gene Amole.

I was touched that the district asked me to speak at her going-away party Wednesday night, where the three superintendents she has worked for gushed about Tustin — and deservedly so.

As I said in a Facebook item I posted after the party, her late father, the famed columnist Gene Amole, must be busting his buttons in heaven.

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2017 Go Code challenge winners focus on water, noise and farmers

Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Andrew Cole, the program manager for Go Code Colorado, which held its final competition Wednesday night. (SOS photo)

Wednesday marked the end of another successful year for Go Code Colorado, a statewide business app challenge housed in Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ office.

After months of preparing, the top 10 teams gave their final pitches to a panel of judges. A member from each team spent five minutes explaining their app idea, followed by a three-minute question-and-answer period.

“I don’t know if this is uniquely Colorado, but it’s the best of Colorado,” Andrew Cole, program manager for Go Code, said after Secretary Williams announced the three winning teams.

The Seawell ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts filled with cheers from the winning team members and their friends and families, and some groans from those who made it as far as the finale but did not win. Some vowed to return next year.

The three teams — Drip, Hud Buddy and Magpie Supply — will each receive $25,000 contract from the state and a sponsor incentive package.

“I continue to be impressed by the creativity and collaboration of the Go Code Colorado teams,” Secretary Williams said. “Teams continue to show the value of public data if we can get it into the hands of innovative and entrepreneurial people who have a different perspective on how to use it.”

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Wayne Williams focuses on voter confidence at elections summit

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Amber McReynolds, director of Denver Elections, at the GET Summit.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams addressed the issue of trust in elections and what states can do to rebuild confidence when he spoke this week at the first ever Global Election Technology Summit.

The GET Summit was organized by Startup Policy Lab, which invited bi-partisan leaders and innovators in elections, technology and other areas to get their input. Williams was a keynote speaker at the summit held Wednesday and Thursday in  San Francisco.

Colorado is viewed as being on the cutting edge of election technology. In an attempt to move the state from its  checkerboard pattern of voting systems, Williams in 2015 selected Dominion Voting Systems to provide equipment to Colorado’s 64 counties. The selection came after a pilot program and the recommendation of a committee.

In addition, county clerks and their staffs currently are undergoing training to learn how to perform the latest in post-election audits.

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