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”

Bold ideas from Boulder County’s elections division

The coasters in action at a Boulder bar that contain voting info for residents of Boulder County. (Matt Benjamin, Facebook photo)

Bolder Boulder refers to a race, but can accurately be applied to the Boulder County elections division, too. This year,the division is giving away coasters, bookmarks, posters and even temporary tattoos that contain election information.

Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams during a recent visit to her office in Boulder.

“Our office takes voter outreach seriously, and that means reaching voters in unconventional ways and unconventional places,” said Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall.

“By conducting our outreach in a variety of channels we are helping reinforce the message that voting is a priority. It helps the voter engage in the process, check their registration, and puts election information at their fingertips in a variety of settings.”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams praised Hall and other clerks for their efforts to boost voter registration and turnout. “There’s a reason we’ve got the highest voter registration in the country, and we’re tops in turnout, too, and innovate ideas such as this are part of our success story.

Read moreBold ideas from Boulder County’s elections division

Secretary Williams accepts award from Colorado Nonprofit Association

Michael Hartman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, center, on Tuesday accepted awards from Renny Fagan, right, the president and CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association, at an association workshop at the Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel. (SOS photo)

As a statewide elected official, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams is regularly asked to present awards during the Colorado Nonprofit Association conferences, but the tables were turned Tuesday when it was Williams up on stage accepting an award from CEO Renny Fagan.

He joined three state lawmakers and another state agency, the Colorado Department of Revenue, who also were honored with Impact Awards for their help passing a bill this year that allows Colorado taxpayers the opportunity to donate all or part of their tax refund to any nonprofit registered in Colorado.

Three lawmakers share a laugh before being honored Tuesday for their work on a bill that allows Coloradans to donate part or all of their income-tax refund to any registered nonprofit. From left to right, Reps. Jim Wilson, R-Salida, and Chris Hansen, D-Denver, and Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver. (SOS photo)

“I think one of the things that Mike Hartman over at the Department of Revenue and I have a common is we’re looking for ways in government to say ‘yes’ as opposed to ways to say ‘no.’ I think both of us are very proud to be a part of this process,” Williams said.

This time, the secretary did not break down.

Also honored was Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver, and Reps. Jim Wilson, R-Salida, and Chris Hansen, D-Denver, who sponsored Senate Bill 141 in the 2018 legislative session.  SB 141 authorizes a new line on the tax form for 2020 called the “Donate to a Colorado Nonprofit Fund,” which allows Colorado taxpayers to donate part or all of their income-tax refund to any nonprofit registered in Colorado.

The effort was several years in the making.

“We’re all here celebrating a kind of a Super Bowl victory, but we had a couple of losing seasons in this deal,” Wilson said, of his and Court’s initial efforts. “A liberal lady and a conservative cowboy working together, what could go possibly go wrong with that deal?”

Read moreSecretary Williams accepts award from Colorado Nonprofit Association