Another election, another risk limiting audit for Colorado’s county clerks

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams watches Friday as two staffers with Denver Elections, Drake Rambke, and Stuart Clubb, indicate where ballots were pulled as part of a risk-limiting audit to ensure machines correctly tabulated the way a voter marked a ballot. (SOS photo)

For the second election in a row, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has overseen a risk-limiting audit designed to catch mistakes if they happened when ballots were tabulated.

The audit of the June 26 primary election involved 20, 10-sided dice, a variety of election officials from across the nation and Colorado county clerks excited to proclaim their results on social media.

Rudy Santos, chief deputy clerk for the Weld County clerk’s offices, watches as election judges Stacey Kjeldgaard, left, a Republican, and Lyn Nelson, a Democrat, conduct their risk-limiting audit in Weld County on Saturday. (SOS photo)

“WooHoo!! Jeffco Risk-Limiting Audit completed!! 263 (ballots) with NO discrepancies!” the Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder’s office tweeted Saturday.

“The purpose for all this is so the voters can have trust and confidence in the system,” Williams said.

“There are some people who go into denial whenever they don’t win. ‘Everybody I talked to voted for me. How can I possibly not have won?’ This is part of providing that assurance to folks.”

Some counties are still in the midst of their audits, while others completed theirs last week.

Read moreAnother election, another risk limiting audit for Colorado’s county clerks

Elections guru praises Colorado’s methods

David Becker, right, with the center for Election Innovation and Research, was in Colorado one week ago for the primary election. In January, Becker attended the Colorado County Clerks Association Conference with Dwight Shellman, left, of the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, and Jennifer Morrell, formerly the election director at the Arapahoe County Clerk’s office and now a consultant with Democracy Fund. (SOS photo)

Colorado received high praise from election security guru David Becker, who was in Colorado to observe the primary election one week ago.

Becker, the founder and director of Election Innovation & Research, wrote about what he observed in his blog.

“It was a great opportunity to watch professionals in their environment and see how their work isn’t static,” Becker said. “They are constantly seeking improvements in security and efficiency.”

This was the first time in Colorado history that unaffiliated voters were allowed to automatically participate.

“David asked to observe Colorado’s primary election to get a better sense of the security protocols we utilize and see our election in practice, Judd Choate, Colorado state elections director said. “We were happy to host him.”

Becker spent the day between the Secretary of State’s office and Denver Elections. He observed how a ballot is received and tabulated in Denver, and noted how calm the process is because most Coloradans vote by mail.

At the Secretary of State’s office, Becker witnessed information sharing about potential cyber threats throughout the day.

“Colorado and Denver County are at the leading edge of blending efficiency, convenience, and security for voters,” he said. “Even in the face of significant threats from foreign countries and others, thanks to examples like those in Colorado and Denver County – and many other places – election cybersecurity is improving substantially and will continue to improve through 2018 and 2020.”

All about U — and Loveland

The decorated wooden U by state Rep. Hugh McKean, a Loveland Republican who loves where he lives.

What do you mean you were “incredibly uncreative” when you decorated your U, Rep. Hugh McKean? It’s so, well, U! And it’s great.

The Loveland Republican is an unabashed homer who created the hashtag #LoveWhereILive. He hands out bookmarks, stickers and other items with the slogan, so it came as no surprise that he plastered his wooden U with them.

Rep. Hugh McKean and his wooden U.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams handed out the U’s as part of the UChooseCO campaign to help inform unaffiliated voters that for the first time they could participate in Colorado’s primary election.  The campaign also reminded unaffiliated voters who got both the Republican and Democratic ballot in the mail to only vote one. If they voted both, neither counted.

Clerks continue to process ballots, although the election ended at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Check out the incredible U’s decorated by McKean’s colleagues at the state Capitol. Senate President Kevin Grantham capitalized on his noteworthy mustache, while Sen. Kerry Donovan used her ranch experience — and that’s no bull.

The UChooseCO campaign has a web pageFacebook page, a Twitter account and its own hashtag, #UChooseCO. Check out more decorated U’s on Facebook and Twitter and this blog.

All about U — and Mesa County’s Sheila Reiner

The wooden U from the Mesa County clerk’s office was decorated by Rose Tafoya, left, from the recording division. To her right is Clerk Sheila Reiner. #COpolitics
A closer look at the Mesa County clerk’s wooden U.

Here’s to Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner, whose office was the first to decorate a wooden U and the first to host a UChooseCO event, complete with an 8-foot yellow U.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams handed out the wooden U’s as part of the UChooseCO campaign to help inform unaffiliated voters that for the first time they can participate in Tuesday’s primary election, and to remind them they can only vote one ballot. If they vote both, neither will count.

Like so many other clerks, scenery inspired how the Mesa County wooden U was decorated. Rose Tayofa in the clerk’s recording division decorated the U.

Here are some — but not all — of the wooden U’s from other county clerks:

Adams County Clerk Stan Martin
Broomfield Clerk Jim Candelarie
Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell
Cheyenne County Clerk Pat Daugherty
Eagle County Clerk Regina O’Brien
La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Parker
Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon
Moffat County Clerk Lila Herold
Montrose County Clerk Tressa Guynes
Routt County Clerk Kim Bonner
Summit County Clerk Kathleen Neel
Weld County Clerk Carly Koppes

The UChooseCO campaign has a web pageFacebook page, a Twitter account and its own hashtag, #UChooseCO. Check out more decorated U’s on Facebook and Twitter and this blog.

Secretary Williams makes his way to Weld County

Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Weld County Clerk and Recorder Carly Koppes in Greeley Monday. (SOS photo)

Weld County Clerk Carly Koppes was excited to show Secretary Williams the county’s new elections office ballots processing center, which is in an old bank building, complete with a vault where the ballots will be stored.

Koppes says she is welcoming name suggestions for the processing center since “elections office ballots processing center” is a mouthful. Her favorite suggestion so far is the “Koppes Center.”

She thanked Williams for his visit to Greeley and praised the SOS staff.

“You guys are rock stars,” she told him. “You do a good job supporting us.”

This year is the first time Colorado will conduct a primary election where unaffiliated voters can automatically participate.

The door to the vault where Weld County’s ballots will be stored. (Weld County clerk photo)

Williams launched the UChoose campaign earlier this year to inform unaffiliated voters about the primary and emphasize that they can’t vote both the Democratic and Republican ballots they will receive. They have to pick just one or neither ballot will count.

The campaign also handed out wooden U’s to decorate. Weld county’s U is decked out in images of the county, which is located on the Wyoming border and is known for its agriculture.  There are also images of Uncle Sam encouraging “U” to vote.

Koppes says that they have received a few questions on why unaffiliated voters received two ballots. Republicans are the largest voting block of active voters in Weld County with 61,880 voters, but the unaffiliated are close behind with 61,669 voters. Democrats trail with 37,164 active voters, according to the latest registration data from the SOS.

“We are keeping track of the questions we receive,” she said. “That way we will be ready for 2020. You know, us elections geeks, always thinking ahead.”