Colorado’s county clerks and their staffs learned about election security and costs, Motor Vehicle registration kiosks and privacy vs. public access from a stakeholder’s viewpoint at their conference in Snowmass Village this week.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams addressed the Colorado County Clerks Association on Tuesday, outlining legislation his office advocated for, the state’s leading status when it comes to voter turnout and registration, and future training to learn about election audits.
“Let me tell you how much I appreciate the opportunity to work with you and how much I and my staff appreciate your … commitment to ensuring that our elections are run with integrity,” Williams said.
Pam Anderson, the former Jefferson County clerk and the executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, said 54 of the state’s 64 county clerk offices sent representatives to the summer conference.
County clerks have a variety of responsibilities, from elections to motor vehicles to recording documents, such as marriage licenses and titles.
The titles of the conferences over the three-day workshop reflected that: “Creative Solutions for Long Lines,” “Election Integrity in the Current Political & Media Environment” and a “History of Paper & Demographics.”
Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell, the president-elect of the clerks association, said she and her staffers learned plenty at the seminars. “They were really well done,” she said.
Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an election petition bill into law designed to prevent some of the problems that plagued last year’s election and thrust a dog named Duke into the limelight.
Under House Bill 1088, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office will conduct signature verification on candidate petitions — previously only the address was checked. It also allows petition circulators to cure administrative deficiencies in their circulator affidavits.
In what is believed to be a legislative first, the measure signed into law was sponsored by a father-son duo. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, introduced House Bill 1088 with his father, Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton. The bill was first heard in committee in March.
“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?'”
My very good friend Tustin Amole retires at the end of this month as the spokeswoman for the Cherry Creek School District.
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.
An effort to modernize the state’s open records law died in one legislative session, spent months being studied by a working group at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, appeared destined to die again this legislative session but was reborn and finally signed into law today.
Gov. John Hickenlooper referred to its tumultuous journey.
“This is one of the bills that was hotly debated throughout the session, and really did require some gentle caressing and firm molding,” Hickenlooper said. “But when you see some very conservative components of our community and some very liberal components of our community coming together, generally you know that there’s good things close at hand.”
In urging the passage of Senate Bill 40 during committee hearings, Secretary of State Wayne Williams quoted “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” which lawmakers said likely was a legislative first.
The law now requires public records that are kept digitally to be released to requestors in that format.
Check out the video from Secretary Williams’ day on the eastern plains here.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams shared his high school experience when honoring two Colorado high schools on Wednesday for its effort in registering juniors and seniors to vote.
Students at Eads and Kit Carson high schools were winners of the Eliza Pickrell Routt Award for Outstanding Voter Registration Efforts from the Secretary of State’s office.
Williams told a story he often tells to groups of young people. His high school in Virginia didn’t have a graduating class in 1959 because the town leaders closed the school rather than follow orders to integrate it.
Twenty years later when Williams attended Warren County High School, the leadership hadn’t improved much.
“I moved there and didn’t like the way the leadership was going so I got involved and I was 16 years old. I got all my friends from the high school and we stood outside all the polling places and we completely changed the leadership for that county for the first time in 100 years,” he said.
“So you can have an impact, even without having the ability to vote.”
Kit Carson seniors Jaxon Crawford and Bradley Johnson worked with the group Inspire Colorado to register 100 percent of the senior class at Kit Carson High.
Not only did Jaxon and Bradley make the effort at their school, but they went to their rival high school, Eads, to get the juniors and seniors there to register.
“I think that all of us adults can learn a little bit about that bipartisan spirit, that we can engage with the people we compete with,” Ryan Drysdale, Inspire Colorado’s program coordinator said.
The award is named after Eliza Pickrell Routt, wife of Gov. John Long Routt after whom Routt County is named. She was the first woman to register to vote in Colorado.
Ouray High School in Ouray and Peak to Peak High School in Lafayette will receive the same honors later this month. Last year, Yuma High School and Eaglecrest High School were the recipients of this award.
To win, 85 percent or more of eligible students must be registered to vote.
Williams also praised the county clerks that serve those two high schools, saying, “Their purpose really is to try to make it easy for you to participate in the process and that’s what we try to do, but we need you to step up and make those decisions.”
Pat Daugherty, Cheyenne county clerk and recorder, spoke briefly to Kit Carson students about her office and how grateful she is for the help she receives from various students and teachers on field trips.
“It’s as hard as showing up and letting somebody know you want to get involved,” she joked. “We gladly accept youth judges in the elections.”
Williams left the seniors with praise for their accomplishments and advice as they set off to their next chapter.
“Take that effort you’ve made and keep going with it as you head off into the world.”