Colorado voters in eight counties tested new voting systems

E-2, a 3-month old Australian Shepard owned by Casey and Rick Newman, is in training to be a service dog. She is learning the Clear Access voting system in order to assist disabled Gilpin County voters. The Gilpin County Clerk and Recorder’s office was one of two pilot county for the Clear Ballot voting system. (Gilpin County clerk's office)
E-2, a 3-month old Australian Sheperd owned by a Gilpin County election judge, checks out new voting equipment. E-2 is in training to be a service dog, including assisting disabled Gilpin County voters. Gilpin was one of eight Colorado counties involved in a pilot program testing voting systems. (Gilpin County clerk’s office)

Here’s to the eight Colorado county clerks, their staffs and the residents in those jurisdictions who tested new voting equipment in the November election as part of a pilot program.

The aim was to help Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams figure out which system might be best for the state. Colorado currently uses a patchwork of different systems and some machines are beyond repair.

 “It’s a great opportunity to try different systems and rather than just buying them, we’re trying a new kind of common-sense approach of try before you buy,” Williams said.

One large county and one mid-sized county were paired together to test machines from four different companies: Clear Ballot, Dominion Voting Systems, ES&S or Hart InterCivic.  Elections officials were effusive in their praise of the voting machine firms and the support their employees provided.

A committee that has been studying the issue of new voting machines for Colorado is scheduled to meet at  9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 13, at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. The four voting systems providers are coming in to answer questions from the Pilot Election Review Committee and make a pitch for their systems.

Read moreColorado voters in eight counties tested new voting systems

Secretary Wayne Williams: “looking for better elections in Colorado”

The Teller County clerk got a visit Monday from Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Matt Masterson, a federal elections commissioner checking out Colorado counties testing new voting equipment. From left to right are: elections deputy Janice Hellman, Masterson, Williams, Clerk Krystal Brown and chief deputy clerk Stephanie Wise.
The Teller County clerk got a visit Monday from Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Matt Masterson, a federal elections commissioner checking out Colorado counties testing new voting equipment. From left to right are: elections deputy Janice Hellman, Masterson, Williams, Clerk Krystal Brown and chief deputy clerk Stephanie Wise.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visited Teller County today talking to Clerk and Recorder Krystal Brown, who is one of eight county clerks participating in a pilot program testing voting machines.

The state is looking toward going to as few as one voting system, instead of the patchwork system currently in operation throughout the state. The four companies involved in the pilot program are Dominion, Hart InterCivic, ES&S and Clear Ballot.

Williams last week visited other pilot counties as well as new clerks and recorders who took office in January in preparation for Election Day on Tuesday.

Reading glasses for Teller County voters.
Reading glasses for Teller County voters.

Stephanie Wise, the chief deputy clerk for Teller County, said elections are stressful, but the visit from Williams and Matt Masterson, a commissioner with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission was anything but.

“It was a nice visit,” she said.

She said Teller has two voter centers, one in Woodland Park and one in Cripple Creek, and the judges are “bored to tears.” That’s because, she said, most Coloradans mail in their ballots. All ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Williams said Teller offered a nice touch for voters: a pair of reading glasses for those that have hit that age.

Here are reports from Adams, Douglas, Morgan and Weld counties about the secretary’s visits:

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Christi Coburn, elections administrator for Adams County, and Adams County Clerk Stan Martin.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Christi Coburn, elections administrator for Adams County, and Adams County Clerk Stan Martin.

ADAMS COUNTY

Adams County Clerk Stan Martin said Williams toured the county’s election facility to get an idea of “a day in the life of a mail ballot.”  Williams also thanked Adams for being one of eight counties participating in the pilot program to test systems from four different companies.

“He said, ‘We’re looking for better elections in Colorado,”’ Martin reported.

Adams  and Gilpin counties are testing the Clear Ballot  ballot system.  Martin and Gilpin Clerk Colleen Stewart are big fans.

“The more I learn about the other systems, the more I like Clear Ballot,” Martin said. “I’m looking for three things: accuracy, effectiveness and transparency.”

Read moreSecretary Wayne Williams: “looking for better elections in Colorado”

Secretary of State Wayne Williams hits the road again, now checking out voting machines

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Gilpin County Clerk Colleen Stewart, left, and chief deputy clerk Gail Maxwell, right. It was snowing in Central City when Williams arrived. The hand-stitched flag, which hangs in the commissioners’ room, has 38 stars and commemorates Colorado’s entry into the union as the 38th state, on July 4, 1876.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Gilpin County Clerk Colleen Stewart, left, and chief deputy clerk Gail Maxwell, right. It was snowing in Central City when Williams arrived. The large hand-stitched flag they are standing in front of has 38 stars and commemorates Colorado’s entry into the union as the 38th state, on July 4, 1876. It hangs in the commissioners room.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams got a taste of the high country’s first significant snowfall when he traveled to Garfield and Gilpin counties this week to check out new voting machines its clerks are testing as part of a pilot program.

Williams plans to certify a new voting machine system for next year, “putting the state on track to move away from a patchwork of voting machines to a single system,” as the Associated Press’ Kristen Wyatt put it.

Eight counties are participating in the pilot program to test machines from four different companies. After the Nov.  3 election, the systems will be evaluated.

Gilpin County Clerk Colleen Stewart said she loves the machines from Clear Ballot that her county is testing. Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico was equally enthusiastic about the latest machines from Hart InterCivic that her voters are using.

And both clerks were impressed that Williams visited on Tuesday to see what was happening with the testing.

“I really appreciate it that he is a hands-on secretary,” Stewart said. “Being an ex-county clerk, he knows what we’re going through. He really understands elections.”

Read moreSecretary of State Wayne Williams hits the road again, now checking out voting machines

Secretary of State Wayne Williams visits Kiowa, Cheyenne and Kit Carson counties

Eads voter Betty Frazee, center, was surprised to see Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams Tuesday she dropped off her ballot to Kiowa County Clerk Delisa Weeks. (SOS)
Eads voter Betty Frazee, center, was surprised to see Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams Tuesday when she dropped off her ballot to Kiowa County Clerk Delisa Weeks. (SOS)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams let out a huge laugh when he heard the story about the Kiowa County voter who needed a replacement ballot: It turns out the voter burned up his first ballot because it was the only paper he could find when lighting his grill.

Williams hit the Eastern Plains Tuesday to visit with three new county clerks who took office in January: Delisa Weeks in Kiowa, Pat Daugherty in Cheyenne and Susan Corliss in Kit Carson. He checked to see how they are doing in preparation for the Nov. 3 election and what kind of assistance the secretary of state’s office can provide them.

“You made it to the end of the world, huh?” Kiowa Chief Deputy Patricia Roper said, when she saw Williams at the office in Eads.

Weeks — who used to be a dispatcher with the sheriff’s office — Roper and Roland Sorensen are the only employees in the clerk’s office. Kiowa, with less than 975 active voters, still counts ballots by hand. (So does Jackson  and San Juan counties.)

Read moreSecretary of State Wayne Williams visits Kiowa, Cheyenne and Kit Carson counties

Denver pioneers election techniques

How cool to rack up so many awards for election innovation. Clerk and recorder Debra Johnson and elections director Amber McReynolds at one of Denver's 24 round-the-clock ballot boxes. (Photo by Alton Dillard)
How cool to rack up so many awards for election innovations. Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson and Denver elections director Amber McReynolds at one of Denver’s two dozen 24-hour ballot boxes. (Photo by Alton Dillard)

When it comes to voting, Denver is a pioneer, whether it’s convenient round-the-clock ballot boxes or ballot tracking.

The Denver Election Division  currently provides 24 round-the-clock ballot boxes where voters can drop off their ballots.  The boxes are in use now as voters drop off ballots for the Nov. 3 coordinated election. Other county clerks have followed suit. 

“We are a state-of-the-art election office that is one of the best in the country,” Denver elections director Amber McReynolds said. “We have spent significant time supporting counties across Colorado and the nation to export our ideas, innovations and service.  It is all worth it if we can improve the voting process for voters everywhere.  That is why it matters to us.”

Read moreDenver pioneers election techniques