“I get the right to vote!” new U.S. citizen tells Secretary of State’s office

When Maria Gutilla of Peru became a U.S. citizen on Wednesday, her family showed up to cheer her on. From left to right, Zack Gutilla, 35, holding daughter Mikaela; Zack's wife, Maria, and Secretary Wayne Williams holding their daughter,Cecilia. (Photo by Keara Brosnan/SOS)
When Maria Gutilla of Peru became a U.S. citizen on Wednesday, her family showed up to cheer her on. From left to right, Zack Gutilla, 35, holding daughter Mikaela; Zack’s wife, Maria, and Secretary Wayne Williams holding their daughter,Cecilia. (Photo by Keara Brosnan/SOS)

By Keara Brosnan

Peruvian Marita Gutilla finally gets to call herself an American.

The 31-year-old was one of  56 people from 29 countries — ranging from Nepal to France to Mexico — who officially became citizens of the United States during a naturalization ceremony Wednesday in Centennial.

Citizenship caries many rights as well as responsibilities, which the new Americans said they looking forward to.

“I get all the privileges everyone else has,” said Yulia Aleksandrovna Penny, a 33-year-old Russian native who lives in Highlands Ranch. “I get the right to vote!”

Read more“I get the right to vote!” new U.S. citizen tells Secretary of State’s office

R.I.P. Lewis — you were loved at the Colorado Capitol and at home

Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and her beloved dog, Lewis, who died last week. (Donovan picture)
Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and her beloved dog, Lewis, who died last week. (Donovan picture)

It’s hard to imagine the 2016 legislative session without Lewis, the beloved dog who loved to race down the hall and into the press room to see if someone was there to give him treats.

He ran so fast he would skid on the marble floor when trying to make the turn.

“The dog is going to make somebody fall,” I was admonished over and over again by the Senate sergeants.

Yet, I continued to buy bags of dog treats for the little guy, who won over my heart  on the campaign trail in 2014 when I met him at the Gunnison County Democratic picnic.

Lewis died last week of an enlarged heart. He died on his 8th birthday.

Donovan on Sunday sent a letter to her “Capitol friends” informing them of Lewis’ death. Condolences poured in.

“I am so sad to hear of little Lewis’ passing,” lobbyist Benjamin Waters wrote on his Facebook page. “Sen. Kerry Donovan from Vail kept this wonderful little pup in her office and whenever the days became contentious and long during the 2015 legislative session, this little guy made everyone feel better. RIP Lewis.”

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County clerks make their pitch on what voting system Colorado should select

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visits with Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell prior to a meeting Friday about new voting equipment.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visits with Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell in his office in Denver prior to a meeting Friday about new voting equipment.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams today thanked the eight counties that served as “guinea pigs” and tested new equipment in the Nov. 3 election — equipment the state is considering selecting before the 2016 presidential election.

“I wanted to say ‘thank you’ to a lot of folks because this has not been an easy project,” Williams said.

He noted that when he was El Paso clerk and recorder, he and former Secretary of State Donetta Davidson served on a committee that looked at moving the state to a universal voting system. When Williams took office in January, he established the Pilot Election Review Committee to look at the issue. The pilot program, he said, was part of a”common sense approach of trying it before buying it.

Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner and Denver County Clerk Deb Johnson tested voting machines from Dominion.
Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner and Denver County Clerk Deb Johnson tested voting machines from Dominion.

“I wanted to say thank you to … all the clerks and their staffs who said, ‘Yes, we will be guinea pigs.’ And it was not an easy thing to say, ‘We’re running an election and we’re going to try out completely new stuff  and we’re going to have all these people watching us,'” Williams said.

“It’s important fiscally for the counties that have to make these purchases that we make good selections. (The machines) don’t just serve us today, but serve us in the future as well.”

He also thanked his staff and members of the  Pilot Election Review Committee prior to presentations from county clerks and  their staffs. The county workers all made a pitch for the committee to recommend to the secretary to select the equipment they tested during the election, although they also discussed weakness they spotted and features that need to be improved.

Read moreCounty clerks make their pitch on what voting system Colorado should select

All eyes on Colorado as Secretary of State Wayne Williams looks at voting equipment

Election Commissioner Matt Masterson talks about Colorado's pilot program to test new voting machines in a thank you letter to Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams.
Election Commissioner Matt Masterson talks about Colorado’s pilot program to test new voting machines in a thank-you note to Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Colorado’s county clerks on Friday will share their views on four voting machines companies that are vying to be selected to provide new equipment as the state attempts to move to a universal system.

The clerks will appear before the Pilot Election Review Committee, which has been studying the issue of new machines since 2013. Eight counties tested equipment from four different companies for the Nov. 3 election. Already, the companies — Clear Ballot, Dominion, ES & S and Hart — have appeared before PERC. Now it is the clerks’ turns.

Among those who observed elections among the eight pilot counties was Matt Masterson, a commissioner with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. He called Colorado’s approach “a national model” as other states look to replace their aging equipment.

Read moreAll eyes on Colorado as Secretary of State Wayne Williams looks at voting equipment

Colorado Secretary of State staffer observes Ukraine elections

The scene in Kiev. (Bouey photo)
Maidan Square in central Kiev, site of the Euromaidan revolution in 2014. The placards to the right are memorials to protesters who were killed in the square. (Steve Bouey photo)

By Keara Brosnan

Colorado’s Secretary of State’s campaign finance manager Steve Bouey traveled across the world to witness Ukraine’s first local elections in five years.

Previously, political parties appointed local officials.

“Ukraine is obviously an interesting place,” Bouey said. “The whole eastern half of the country is under rebel control and they want to secede and join Russia and Crimea. There’s a lot going on politically.”

Bouey was selected to be a part of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe.  Bouey, a seasoned traveler who has worked for the Secretary of State’s office for more than six years, toured the country in October as part of his OSCE mission.

Stephen Bouey, with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office, and his translator, Vlad, during Ukraine's local elections in October. (Bouey photo)
Steve Bouey, right, who is with Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, and his translator, Vlad, during Ukraine’s local elections in October. (Bouey photo)

With the ongoing civil war in Ukraine, the Euromaidan 2014 revolution, the recent annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass, traveling to Ukraine might seem  dangerous.

“I thought, ‘Wow, this is Ukraine, it’s a dangerous place, there’s an ongoing civil war,’” Bouey said, “But I didn’t feel any danger or threat to my safety… I was in Afghanistan back in June and that was obviously a dodgy place, but I felt safe in Ukraine.”

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