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 Trails to our own Lynn Waring

Colorado Secretary of State staffers Cheryl Hodges and D.J. Davis and retiring employee Lynn Waring, which was flown over the Capitol in her honor. (SOS photo)

Lynn Waring has wowed colleagues at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office with her Halloween costumes so it came as a bit of surprise that she picked Friday to retire, just weeks away from impressing co-workers with another fun ensemble.

There was the tea bag, the web site, the melted crayon.

But Waring is going to miss something else, too — what could be metro Denver’s first snowstorm on Monday.

“It’s probably the first time I’ve heard the weather report and not panicked and thought, ‘Oh, dear,” Waring said today.

Waring began at the Secretary of State’s office in 2011, and for the past two years has handled bingo-and-raffle reports. She previously worked for Boulder County, including a stint as chief deputy to the public trustee, Sandy Hume.

Colorado Secretary of State employee Lynn Waring’s costume one Halloween.

The Secretary of State’s office today feted Waring with cake, cookies, a $100 gift card, a  retirement letter from Gov. John Hickenlooper and a flag flown over the Capitol.

Many wondered what the office was going to be like without Waring, who was known to slip a breakfast bar or some other treat on her co-workers’ desks. I’m sad to see her go. She reminded me of a milder version of Pat Worley, the former legislative staffer aide who made the state House such a fun place to work.

Waring could be counted on to remind her colleagues of some activity hosted by Employee Relations Committee, of which she was a member.

The committee helped collect donations and gift cards for the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office during unprecedented flooding in Baton Rogue, and items for the Colorado Food Bank as part of a Super Bowl bet with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office. Waring donned a chef’s hat when she and other members flipped pancakes for the all-you-can-eat employee breakfasts.

Waring was especially known for arranging the tours and treats for Take Your Kids to work day, where she loved to introduce her two grandkids.

Members of the Colorado Secretary of State’s Employee Relations Committee, along with businessman Rick Enstrom and Secretary of Wayne Williams. The committee helped organize the office’s food drive as part of a Super Bowl bet. From left to right: Kristine Reynolds, Cheryl Hodges, Enstrom, Lynn Waring, Secretary Williams, Janet Perry and Abbas Montoya. (SOS photo)

Waring and her husband, Russ, a surveyor, plan to sell their home in Arvada and move to their home in Estes Park, where they have loved spending weekends and holidays. She refers to him as “The Professor” because he taught “Surveyor 101” for 15 years at Arapahoe Community College.

The Professor was known to help out now and then, such as delivering pies to serve on Pi Day.

Members of the Employee Relations Committee, including Abbas Montoya, said Waring will be missed.

“Lynn’s enthusiasm was infectious,” he said, “and she made us all excited to do things, like Pi Day.”

“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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Almost 1,000 Coloradans sign up as part of National Voter Registration Day

Celebrating National Voter Registration Day at Civic Center Park were, from left to right, Alton Dillard, spokesman for Denver Elections; former Colorado Secretary of State Donetta Davidson; Suzanne Staiert, deputy secretary of state; and Debra Johnson, Denver clerk and recorder. (SOS photo by Julia Sunny)

More than 900 Coloradans signed up to vote one week ago today, National Voter Registration Day, and almost half of them chose to be unaffiliated.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and his deputy, Suzanne Staiert, made media appearances as part of NVRD and some election offices, such as Arapahoe, El Paso and Denver counties, hosted registration events.

In all, 953 people registered to vote in Colorado on Sept. 26, according to Secretary of State data released Monday. Of that, 454 registered as unaffiliated, 285 as Democrat, 190 as Republican and the rest were third-party members. The five top counties with the most registrants were:

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams appears on “Good Morning Colorado” with anchors Megan Kelly and Kirk Yuhnke to talk about voter registration and participation. (SOS photo)

El Paso: 139

Denver: 128

Arapahoe: 113

Larimer: 100

Jefferson: 81

In addition, Boulder County registered 63 people and Adams and Douglas counties each registered 61.

The National Association of Secretaries of State in 2012 designated September as National Voter Registration Month with the fourth Tuesday in September set as National Voter Registration Day to encourage voter participation and increase awareness about state requirements and deadlines for voting.

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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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