Secretary of State Wayne Williams wanders West

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Dolores County Clerk LaRita Randolph holding an antique ballot box. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams headed out to the westernmost part of the state to visit Dolores County Clerk LaRita Randolph as part of his effort to visit all 64 county clerks at least once every two years.

“I made the commitment that I was going to make an elections-related visit to every county, every two years,” Williams said. “I made a job commitment, not a political commitment.”

Like Williams, Randolph will be leaving office in January. The two discussed what lies ahead while reflecting on a successful midterm election.

“We were comparing notes about what life holds in the next few months, and of course, we talked about the election that we just went through and how we are glad Colorado is cutting edge and everything went smoothly,” Randolph said.

Randolph and her staff completed their risk-limiting audit yesterday with “flying colors,” according to Williams.

This was the first year Dolores County used Dominion Voting Systems. Randolph reported a seamless transition towards more tech-savvy election administration. She especially appreciated the Dominion adjudication feature, which allows for election judges to interpret ballots with unclear markings and digitally records the judge’s decision to count the ballot.

“It saves the judges so much work,” she said. “So I couldn’t be more pleased with the Dominion product.”

Dolores County had a turnout that rivaled the 2016 general election. Randolph was able to report the results 12 minutes after the polls closed on election night. The county had two contested local races, one of which was the clerk’s race.

Lana Hancock, municipal clerk for the town of Dolores, will take over as the Dolores County Clerk and Recorder in January.

“She will be fresh to this office. She will have a lot to learn, but she’s bringing a lot of experience with her just in the municipal clerk side,” Randolph said.

Randolph hopes that Hancock will continue to bolster the county’s election security and attend trainings like EPIC, which was held in September to prepare clerks for the upcoming midterms.

Public Sector Innovation award brought home to Colorado

Hilary Rudy and the 2018 Public Sector Innovation award, presented to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office for implementing risk-limiting audits. (SOS photo)

Deputy Elections Director Hilary Rudy earlier this month went to pick up the public sector innovation award given to Colorado for the use of risk-limiting audits.

The awards dinner was held in McLean, Va., where vendors, local, state and federal government projects were recognized for reimagining public-sector IT.

The Public Sector Innovation category “focuses on transformative tech that is truly reinventing government — at the federal, state and local levels,” according to the Government Innovation Awards website. Colorado’s RLA process in August was recognized as being the gold standard for ensuring election results.

A risk-limiting audit is a procedure that provides strong statistical evidence that the election outcome is right and has a high probability of correcting a wrong outcome. Risk-limiting audits require election officials to examine and verify more ballots in close races and fewer ballots in races with wide margins.

The SOS office was nominated for the award by Free & Fair, a company that provides elections services and systems. They developed the software used in Colorado’s risk-limiting audit in the 2017 coordinated election.

“I enjoyed the opportunity to pick up the public sector innovation award on behalf of Colorado,” Rudy said. “It’s an honor to be recognized alongside these incredible innovation projects.”

Colorado’s third risk-limiting audit

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams today kicked off the state’s third risk-limiting audit for the 2018 midterm elections, which he said will “provide a level of assurance” to voters.

Campaign finance director Steve Bouey draws a dice from Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, bottom photo,and then rolls it. The number was used to generate a random seed for election officials auditing their ballots.

“It is a big deal. The people need to know that the results are accurate and they need to have confidence in that so that they have respect for the government that is elected,” Williams said.

“It is also to instill a sense of civic engagement in people so that they believe there is a reason to vote because their votes are counted accurately.”

The vast majority of counties, 58 to be exact, will be conducting a comparison audit. This involves examining and verifying ballots pulled in close races to provide statistical proof that the outcome of the election is correct.

Last week, the Secretary of State staff met to choose which races to audit. Among these races are county clerk contests, mayoral elections and the first statewide race in Colorado to go through the process: the bid for attorney general between Republican George Brauchler and Democrat Phil Weiser, the victor.

Alton Dillard with Denver Elections throws the dice as Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams looks on. It’s part of the process to conduct a risk-limiting audit. (SOS photo)

Williams explained the number of ballots pulled depends upon the number of ballots cast and the margin. A random seed, which is a number consisting of at least 20 digits, was created by sequential rolls of 20 individual 10-sided dice. This number is used to determine which specific ballots will be pulled in each race to compare with the election results.

Members of the public were randomly selected to roll the dice.

A number of out-of-state observers were in attendance, including Michigan election officials who are planning to implement a RLA in their state next month.

The observers then visited Denver Elections where they saw the RLA first hand, as Denver’s ballots being pulled and compared to the paper record.

To see the comparison audit data and reports, check out the Audit Center.

Guests from around the world stop at Colorado SOS

 

Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks Colorado elections to government officials and their guests from India. (SOS photo)

Visitors from Hungary and India visited Secretary of State Wayne Williams today to learn more about how Colorado elections are run.

With the midterm election Tuesday, the international guests were eager to ask questions about the process. Among the Hungarians were members of FIDESZ party,  the ruling party in Hungary for the last eight years, parliament members, and communications directors for various offices of the Hungarian government.

Secretary Williams with Hungarians visiting the United States to observe the 2018 general election. (SOS photo)

“Mail ballots are strange to us, we don’t have that in Hungary,” one guest  said.

Williams said mail ballots make voting more accessible.

Another question: “Would online voting make young people vote more?”

Williams said he doesn’t trust the security of it yet, but he did explain how some military and overseas voters are able to vote online, through an encrypted system.

“Some people don’t believe someone who works on a submarine should be allowed to vote,” he said. “We do.”

Read moreGuests from around the world stop at Colorado SOS

NALEO chief asks Secretary Williams’ help in “saving the census”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, right, again commits to encouraging Coloradans to participate in the 2020 census. He met this week with Arturo Vargas, chief executive officer of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, and Gillian Winbourn and Rosemary Rodriguez of “Together We Count.” (SOS photo)

The head of a national Latino organization visited with Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams this week to talk about the importance of an accurate count for the 2020 census.

Arturo Vargas, the chief executive officer of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, enlisted Williams’ help to make sure Colorado residents are counted.  Williams explained the governor’s office handles the census, but that he would do everything he could so that Colorado gets its “fair share of everything from highway dollars, to housing, to community development block grants, to everything else that is out there.”

As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, America each decade counts its population. Vargas and Williams agreed that the message to Coloradans to participate is critical

“If you tell me it’s my civic duty,” Williams said, “it’s not as compelling as saying that this will help fix that road in front of your house or this will help a clinic or help provide funding for this various issue and tying it into something they care about.”

Read moreNALEO chief asks Secretary Williams’ help in “saving the census”