Harvard’s “D3P” group checks out Colorado’s elections

A Harvard group exploring elections and security issues toured the Colorado Secretary of State’s office and Denver Elections on Friday. Defending Digital Democracy, an initiative of the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center project, aims to deliver a publicly available resource that provides solutions and best practices to help close or mitigate digital security gaps.

Members of a much-ballyhooed project from Harvard’s Belfer Center that is aimed at helping election administrators and others protect democratic processes from cyber and information attacks were in Denver Friday to soak up Colorado’s elections process.

Election officials from as far away as La Plata and Mesa counties participated.

“The visit was phenomenal for all of us,” said Jen Nam, an Army reservist with  expertise in intelligence. “It was an eye-opening experience for how advanced and complex the elections process can be.”

Nam’s a student at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, which in July launched the “Defending Digital Democracy” Project. The initiative received plenty of attention because it is co-led led by the former campaign managers for Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, Robby Mook and Matt Rhoades respectively, along with experts from the national security and technology communities.

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Colorado, the “Burger King of elections”

Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks to Coloradans 50 and older about elections and other issues. He and Elena Nunez, the director of Common Cause, addressed an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute class on Tuesday. (SOS photo)

Colorado is “kind of the Burger King of elections,” Secretary of State Wayne Williams told a class Tuesday during a talk with seniors learning about government.

Williams and Elena Nunez, executive director of Common Cause Colorado, spoke to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a program through the University of Denver that provides adult learning for men and women age 50 and “better.”

Williams explained that Colorado is the only state that offers a mail-ballot system, early voting and polling-place locations two weeks before an election.

“So it’s kind of the Burger King of elections, right?” he said. “Having it your way, however you want to do it.”

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Happy 70th, U.S. Air Force

Senior airman Justine Sunny during an incentive flight, which is awarded to airmen that excel in all aspects of Air Force life.

“The world’s greatest air force” turns 70 today. On Sept. 18, 1947, President Truman signed the National Security Act, which established the U.S. Air Force.

Full disclosure: The Air Force is near and dear to my heart. My younger sister, Justine, is an airman serving at Kadena Air base in Okinawa, Japan. More on that later.

Wayne Williams, then chairman of the Colorado Springs Housing Authority, Brig. Gen. Mike Drennan, Dick Sullivan, the Housing Authority executive director and Col. Jack Perroni on the July/August 2000 cover of Defense Communities magazine.

My boss, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, helped those stationed at Peterson Air Force base obtain affordable housing when he served as chairman of the board for the Housing Authority in Colorado Springs in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Williams, who practiced law at the time, worked with the board on a development where monthly rent would equal the enlisted members’ housing allowances. At the time, there was a housing shortage for those assigned to Peterson.

The Air Force has a huge presence in Colorado. The Air Force Academy is in Colorado Springs. There are four air bases in Colorado: Buckley, Cheyenne Mountain, Schriever and Peterson.

Justine and me.

And then of course, there was Lowry. During World War II, Lowry became so critical in providing trained personnel to the U.S. military that the base population reached 20,000 and operated in three shifts, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, according to a Lowry website.

During a ceremony Friday honoring the Air Force as it approached its 70th birthday, President Trump praised the organization as he addressed the military at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

The president said he was “honored to join you on this really, really historic occasion, the 70th anniversary of the United States Air Force. The greatest air force on the face of this Earth. By far.”

As for my sister, Justine enlisted her senior year at Lakewood High School, Class of 2015,  and went off to basic training just a few months after graduation.

She works in armament, so basically she loads missiles on to fighter jets.  She is a little over two years in to her six-year contract, I couldn’t be more proud of her.

Check out the video of some of the SOS staff and their experience in the Air Force.

Secretary of State’s office talks to voters

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks to the Jefferson County Republican Party Wednesday night about two ballot measures what allow participation by unaffiliated voters and what that means for elections. (SOS photo)

By Lizzie Stephani

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office believes in educating voters on election issues, which is why the top folks agreed to speak to various groups this month.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Wednesday addressed the Jefferson County Republican Party, which had questions about two successful ballot measures that change the role of unaffiliated voters in primary elections.

“Colorado election law has changed and we want to make sure that our citizens understand the impact,” he said.

Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert addressed voter privacy surrounding the President Tump’s request for voter data when she spoke to the Broomfield Democrats earlier this month and again to the League of Women Voters during a recent appearance in Lakewood.

“We’re hoping that by educating people and talking about it, we can get people to understand what happened and not be concerned that their information is public,” Staiert said.

Other questions posed at the League of Women Voters event concerned provisional ballots at the precinct level and due process for unaffiliated voters in primary elections.

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Colorado election officials stand out at national conference

Colorado’s election officials racked up the awards at this year’s Election Center conference, which was held in California. From left to right: Arapahoe County Elections Director Jennifer Morrell, Denver Elections’ Amanda Beach, the voter records manager, Amber McReynolds, director of Denver Elections, El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman and Denver County Clerk Debra Johnson.

By Lizzie Stephani

Colorado election officials shone at the Election Center’s 33rd national conference, winning several prestigious awards and gaining certification or re-certification as election administrators.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams, as well as members of various clerks’ offices,  attended the conference in Garden Grove, Calif., which ended Wednesday.

“Colorado’s county clerks have one of the highest participation rates in the Election Center and it was exciting to see Colorado’s clerks win awards and their staffers graduate at this year’s national conference,” Williams said. “Colorado won three of the 10 awards that were handed out.”

El Paso and Denver counties, and the Colorado County Clerks Association were recognized for their work in serving their voters with professional best practices.

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