You can’t blame Secretary of State Wayne Williams for beaming when a solider at an Armed Forces lunch praised Colorado’s process for overseas and military voters.
And then Army Major Eric Lintelmann followed up with an e-mail to the state’s top election official.
“Sir,” the soldier began. “As a native Coloradan, I am extremely proud of our state’s voting process.”
Lintelmann explained that when he was stationed in Iraq in 2016 mail was taking anywhere from one to three months to arrive. At the time, he was the voting assistance officer.
“I had voters from Mississippi, Illinois, California, Texas, and mostly Colorado,” he wrote. “The people from the non Colorado states had much more trouble getting help voting … However, all Colorado voters who wanted to vote were able to vote. I had soldiers from Teller, El Paso, Douglas, Elbert and Denver counties.”
With Memorial Day just around the corner, when America honors those who died in active military service, it’s important to note that Colorado has 8,086 military voters. Nearly one-third are registered to vote in El Paso County, home to five military installations, including Peterson Air Force Base, where Lintelmann is stationed.
A former Colorado governor and the state treasurer who wants to move across the hall into the governor’s office joined in a campaign to decorate wooden U’s to highlight the automatic participation of unaffiliated voters in the primary election for the first time in state history.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams is handing out the U’s as part of the UChooseCO campaign, which stresses to unaffiliated voters that they will receive both the Democratic and Republican ballots but they have to pick just one ballot. If they vote two, neither will count.
Every day between now and the June 26 primary we will highlight a U or two. Recipients were asked to consider their values when decorating or to just have fun. Some clerks highlighted their counties.
This is the second year in a row that the seniors at Kit Carson HS have received this award. Last year, seniors Jaxon Crawford and Bradley Johnson registered not only students at their high school but also at their rival high school, Eads, to win the Eliza Pickrell Routt award for both schools. The two boys worked with Inspire Colorado, a nonprofit dedicated to getting high schoolers registered to vote.
During their efforts last year, the junior class also participated in registering, but since the award is only for seniors, they had to wait. Kit Carson exceeded the 85 percent registration requirement again thanks to Crawford and Johnson, who were also recognized with this year’s award. Every member of the senior class registered to vote this year.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams traveled to the eastern plains to recognize these students and present the awards. Crawford and Johnson were not in attendance because of college finals, and the majority of the senior class was at a Rockies game as part of the senior sendoff.
Cheyenne County Clerk Pat Daugherty congratulated the students on their second award in a row and thanked Williams for making the trip.
Denver South High School
In Denver’s Wash Park neighborhood, the South High Rebels senior class were presented with the Eliza Pickrell Routt award for the first time. Colorado state elections director Judd Choate presented the award.
Two students, Torie Wyman and Sophie Cardin, led the voter registration effort and registered 85 percent of their eligible peers to vote. Inspire Colorado partnered with the school and offered updates and support. Wyman is headed to Colorado State University to study journalism and Cardin, a Boettcher scholar, is going to Colorado College to study philosophy.
“We foster student voice at South and this will help them carry this into their adult lives,” Principal Jen Hanson said. “They are our future and need to know how they can impact change.”
Peak to Peak High School
In Boulder, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert presented the Eliza Pickrell Routt award to Peak to Peak for the second year in a row. 119 of the 140 seniors registered to vote, putting them at 85 percent registration.
Senior Robin Peterson pioneered the effort this year and last year. She had help from Inspire, who trained her on voter registration and leadership in civic engagement and provided her with support and materials for the days that the school did voter registration drives.
Secretary Wayne Williams visited Fairview High School in Boulder on Friday to recognize the efforts in getting their peers registered to vote by presenting students with the Eliza Pickrell Routt award.
Thanks to the work of more than two dozen students and one dedicated social studies teacher, a whopping 90 percent of eligible seniors are registered to vote at Fairview. Seniors Henry Magowan, Ayesha Rawal and Edden Rosenberg and two freshmen, Sophia Murray and Elyana Steinberg, along with 25 freshman volunteers, visited classrooms, entered data and carried out the logistics of the project.
Aaron Hendrikson, a social studies teacher, was approached by the Fairview Young Democrats club with the belief that “we need to do a better job engaging young citizens in our democracy,” the students told him. “For a variety of reasons, we currently have a politics that is dominated by older voters and their priorities and as a consequence, younger Americans often don’t see themselves represented in government.”
Their motto throughout this project was a quote from Margaret Mead, a prominent American anthropologist, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, dedicated citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
A story in The Washington Post today about Colorado’s stellar election security has been read far and wide — to the delight of those who handle elections in the Centennial State.
“Nationwide, states are taking a variety of measures to bolster their election systems ahead of November, from replacing old equipment to conducting vulnerability tests to hiring new staff,” Post reporter Derek Hawkins wrote. “But few, if any, have gone as far as Colorado has — indeed, many states don’t have the funding to make the upgrades.”
The headline of the article: “How Colorado became the safest state to cast a vote.”
“If people perceive a risk, they’re less likely to participate in voting,” Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams is quoted as saying. “We want to protect people from that threat, and we want to people to perceive that they are protected from that threat.”