Wayne Williams’ bittersweet day

Republican Wayne Williams, Colorado’s secretary of state. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, widely regarded as one of the best election chiefs in the country, on Tuesday lost his re-election bid to Democrat Jena Griswold.

Here is the letter he penned to the staff at 12:20 this morning:

Dear Colleagues: 

By the time you read this in the morning, most of you will be aware that the administration of the 2018 general election went extraordinarily well.  We had record turnout and voters across the state were able to easily participate and our election processes ran wonderfully.

Unfortunately for me, the results in my election were not what I desired.  Jena and I spoke last night and plan to meet soon to discuss the transition that will occur on January 8.

Today I’m visiting with Brazilian election observers in Colorado Springs so I will be out of the office.  I’ll be back on Thursday to prepare for the risk limiting audit.

It has been the honor of a lifetime to work with you for the past four years.  Together we have built the best Secretary of State office in the nation. I’m proud of all we’ve done as a team and wish the very best for each of you during the next term.

Very truly yours,

Wayne

Guests from around the world stop at Colorado SOS

 

Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks Colorado elections to government officials and their guests from India. (SOS photo)

Visitors from Hungary and India visited Secretary of State Wayne Williams today to learn more about how Colorado elections are run.

With the midterm election Tuesday, the international guests were eager to ask questions about the process. Among the Hungarians were members of FIDESZ party,  the ruling party in Hungary for the last eight years, parliament members, and communications directors for various offices of the Hungarian government.

Secretary Williams with Hungarians visiting the United States to observe the 2018 general election. (SOS photo)

“Mail ballots are strange to us, we don’t have that in Hungary,” one guest  said.

Williams said mail ballots make voting more accessible.

Another question: “Would online voting make young people vote more?”

Williams said he doesn’t trust the security of it yet, but he did explain how some military and overseas voters are able to vote online, through an encrypted system.

“Some people don’t believe someone who works on a submarine should be allowed to vote,” he said. “We do.”

Read moreGuests from around the world stop at Colorado SOS

Colorado celebrates 125 years of women getting the right to vote

Women in Colorado campaign for the passage of the 19th amendment. ( The Autry Museum photo)

On Nov.  7th, the day after this year’s general election, Colorado will celebrate 125 years of women getting the right to vote.

The Atlas Obscura Society Denver will host a celebration event tonight at the historic Evans School. Activities include an interactive presentation by HistoriCity and a speech by Amber McReynolds, the executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute.

After two failed attempts, the women’s suffrage movement won voting rights for women by a state referendum in 1893. The amendment was drafted by J. Warner Mills, a Denver lawyer, and sponsored by state Rep. J.T. Heath of Montrose County. “The opposition saloonkeepers and brewers, who feared women voters would crack down on liquor, were not taking the suffrage campaign seriously and mounted little opposition,” according to an Internet article on the vote.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams sits with students at Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver one year ago before presenting seniors with the Eliza Pickrell Routt award for voter registration. (SOS photo)

Colorado became the second state to enfranchise women behind Wyoming, paving the way for the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920.

One of the leaders in the suffrage movement was Eliza Pickrell Routt, the wife of Colorado’s first governor, John Routt.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has honored the former first lady and her contributions to women’s suffrage by naming an award after her. It goes to high schools where 85 percent or more of the senior class has registered to vote.

“When women got the right to, she was the first one to register,” he said.

Read moreColorado celebrates 125 years of women getting the right to vote

NALEO chief asks Secretary Williams’ help in “saving the census”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, right, again commits to encouraging Coloradans to participate in the 2020 census. He met this week with Arturo Vargas, chief executive officer of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, and Gillian Winbourn and Rosemary Rodriguez of “Together We Count.” (SOS photo)

The head of a national Latino organization visited with Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams this week to talk about the importance of an accurate count for the 2020 census.

Arturo Vargas, the chief executive officer of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, enlisted Williams’ help to make sure Colorado residents are counted.  Williams explained the governor’s office handles the census, but that he would do everything he could so that Colorado gets its “fair share of everything from highway dollars, to housing, to community development block grants, to everything else that is out there.”

As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, America each decade counts its population. Vargas and Williams agreed that the message to Coloradans to participate is critical

“If you tell me it’s my civic duty,” Williams said, “it’s not as compelling as saying that this will help fix that road in front of your house or this will help a clinic or help provide funding for this various issue and tying it into something they care about.”

Read moreNALEO chief asks Secretary Williams’ help in “saving the census”

Bold ideas from Boulder County’s elections division

The coasters in action at a Boulder bar that contain voting info for residents of Boulder County. (Matt Benjamin, Facebook photo)

Bolder Boulder refers to a race, but can accurately be applied to the Boulder County elections division, too. This year,the division is giving away coasters, bookmarks, posters and even temporary tattoos that contain election information.

Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams during a recent visit to her office in Boulder.

“Our office takes voter outreach seriously, and that means reaching voters in unconventional ways and unconventional places,” said Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall.

“By conducting our outreach in a variety of channels we are helping reinforce the message that voting is a priority. It helps the voter engage in the process, check their registration, and puts election information at their fingertips in a variety of settings.”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams praised Hall and other clerks for their efforts to boost voter registration and turnout. “There’s a reason we’ve got the highest voter registration in the country, and we’re tops in turnout, too, and innovate ideas such as this are part of our success story.

Read moreBold ideas from Boulder County’s elections division