“The big guy” talks about elections issues with Jon Caldara

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Jon Caldara, president of the right-leaning Independence Institute, discussed a range of election topics during a recent appearance together, from the Russians to the impact of a measure that allows unaffiliated voters to participate in primary elections without declaring to be a Republican or a Democrat.

Williams appeared on Caldara’s show, Devil’s Advocate, which was taped last week and airs at 8:30 tonight on Colorado Public Television Channel 12.  (Update: Here’s the link to the show.)

“We’re going to have open primaries, which is crazy to me but the law is the law and now unaffiliated candidates will be able to vote in any primary,” Caldara said, referring to Propositions 107 and 108, which voters passed a year ago. “So if I’m a registered Republican, at this point why bother? You can just be unaffiliated and get both ballots.”

Williams pointed out that more than 90 percent of candidates get on the ballot through the caucus and assembly process. And in some places with lopsided registration — GOP- dominated El Paso County or Democratic-laden Denver — that process can determine who wins in November.

“So there’s still a very good reason to be affiliated and participate,” he said.

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Knoedler & Witwer: The next generation

Aida Knoedler and Kit Witwer ran for president of their fifth grade class at Dennison Elementary School in Jefferson County.

Facebook is filled these days with posts about people’s kids running for school offices, but the one that warmed my heart belonged to former state Rep. Matt Knoedler of Lakewood and featured a picture of his daughter.

“Wouldn’t you vote for her? Meet Dennison Elementary’s newly elected 5th grade President!”

Knoedler’s Facebook post inspired several fun comments, including one from Jon Caldara, the political court jester at the right leaning Independence Institute.

“Does that mean she has the power to pardon me?” Caldara asked. “She does but she wouldn’t,” Knoedler replied.

Dennison was one of five Colorado schools recognized Thursday as National Blue Ribbon Schools, cited for high performance on state and national tests, The Denver Post reported.

Aida Knoedler beat more than 10 other candidates, including the son of former state Rep. Rob Witwer, which inspired this gracious tweet:

Knoedler jokingly responded to the Tweet by saying it was “fake news” that his daughter colluded with sixth graders.

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Good-bye to two good cops

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Schrader, who used to carpool to work with Tom Acernio, attended Acernio’s retirement party July 15. On the far left and right are Donna and Tom Acernio. Between them is Sheriff Jeff Schrader and his wife Jane. (Photo by Lynn Bartels)
Trooper Mike Fohrd and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at an event in April. (Photo by Lynn Bartels)

Two of my favorite men in blue — the Colorado State Patrol’s Mike Fohrd and Jeffco Sheriff’s Tom Acernio — were honored at retirement parties last month.

I made it to Tom’s party, which was held July 15 just down the street from my house at the Potenza Lodge in north Denver.  I had to skip Mike’s party the day before at the Governor’s Mansion, and for that I blame Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach because I was working on a news release about the White House’s election commission.

I met Mike in 2000 when I first started covering the state Capitol and he was assigned to the crew guarding then Gov. Bill Owens and his family. Through the years I always delighted in seeing him, whether he was ferrying around a governor or handling security at the Capitol south door.  “You can let her through,” he would tell the security folks. “She practically lives here.”

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Mea culpa: the uproar over Colorado voter data rolls

“We applaud Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams for turning over only that data that is legally releasable, and dismiss as politically opportunistic calls from some that he should have turned his back to the commission’s request entirely.” –The Grand Junction Sentinel

Hundreds of Coloradans have called, e-mailed or written to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office in recent days, urging Secretary Wayne Williams to refuse to turn over public voter roll data to a commission appointed by President Donald Trump.

Had Williams announced he had no intention of doing so, he might have been a hero to some judging from the angry comments we have received. He also would have been breaking the law and setting, he believes, a dangerous precendent.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, right, addresses the National Association of Secretaries of State last week in Indianapolis. To his left is California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. (Photo credit: Jonathan Hawkins Photography for NASS)

“Colorado law does not permit the secretary of state, county election officials or anyone else to say, ‘I’m only going to give it to the people I like,’ or, ‘I’m only going to give it to my friends,’ or, ‘I’m only going to give it to the people in my party,’” Williams said at a news conference last week.

“That is not a provision of Colorado law, nor do you want to put such a provision in place where only favored people can receive that information.”

In the meantime, Williams sponsored a resolution unanimously adopted this week at the National Association of Secretaries of States’ summer conference in Indianapolis. It reiterated that states are in charge of elections.

The furor over the White House’s request was felt from sea to shining sea, but I feel guilty about the depth of the angst in Colorado.

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Hard work, hackers & hikers — Here’s to the Colorado clerks conference

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks to Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico and Larimer County Clerk Angela Myers at the Colorado County Clerks Association Conference in Snowmass Village. (SOS photo)

By Lynn Bartels and Julia Sunny

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.

Top officials with the Colorado County Clerks Association include Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell, the president-elect, executive director Pam Anderson, and Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon, the CCCA president. (SOS photo)

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.

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