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.
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.”
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.)
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.”
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Friday thanked Jefferson County residents going through training to be an election judge, saying the counties couldn’t conduct elections without their help.
Williams met the judges-in-training when he visited with Jefferson County Clerk Faye Griffin. He later visited Summit County Clerk Kathy Neal in Breckenridge.
“It was good to have him here,” Griffin said. “It’s good to let the counties know that the secretary of state is interested in helping them. ”
In addition to talking to the elections judges, she said Williams met the staff and checked out Jeffco’s election facility. All Colorado counties are holding an election on Nov. 3.
Griffin took office in January but she’s hardly new to the job. She earlier served eight years as county clerk beginning in 1999.
Both Griffin and Neal said they discussed with Williams his experience with elections. He served as the El Paso County clerk and recorder before being elected secretary of state in 2014.
“That seems logical, to have someone who knows how elections works, ” Neal said.
She also praised the secretary of state’s elections division, a compliment Williams hears as he travels the state.
Only one statewide measure is on the ballot, Proposition BB, which The Denver Post says offers voters “a choice” on how to handle $66.1 million in marijuana taxes collected in the first year of legal pot. Should lawmakers have permission to spend the money on school construction and other programs? Or should the state refund the money, giving most of it back to recreational pot growers and users?
Most counties also have on their ballots local school board races and issues from special districts or municipalities. Mineral is the only county that has just the statewide issue on the ballot.
Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner was introduced at a business lunch in Denver on Thursday as “our environmentalist on Capitol Hill” and dang if he didn’t get up and recycle a joke from his 2014 campaign.
Gardner noted that the attack ads aimed at him featured “grainy black-and-white pictures” and seemed to air “every 30 seconds.”
“One of the greatest places you can go to as a Republican in a heated campaign is Cabella’s,” he said, referring to the giant fishing-and-hunting outlet.
Per usual, the line elicited laughter. Gardner talked about customers coming up to him at the Cabella’s in Grand Junction and asking how he was doing. Two men in particular were staring at him. One walked off but the other said, “Hey, hey, are you — ?” and Gardner smiled and said, “Yeah, yeah, I am.”
“So he calls his buddy over and says, ‘Look, it’s Bill Owens!'” Gardner said, referring to a former governor.
The crowd also welcomed CACI’s new chairman, Travis Webb, a managing partner at BKD LLP, one of the nation’s largest accounting and advisory firms. The Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry ‘s motto is “We champion a healthy business climate.”
Gardner last year defeated Democrat Mark Udall, becoming the first candidate in 36 years to knock off an incumbent Colorado U.S. senator. He told the crowd that he and Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and the rest of the Colorado delegation — featuring three Democrats and four Republicans — get along better than some delegations that are all members of the same party.
The senator touched on a variety of topics, including broadband, deregulation, marijuana and banking, trade agreements and aerospace and technology. He got a big round of applause when he said the Senate passed the first long-term transportation bill in more than a decade, particularly after he spelled out what that money means for Colorado. And he talked about the need to bring the economic boom in certain parts of Colorado, such as the Denver metro area, to the rest of the state.
Gardner also joked on the situation in Washington, saying he is the only senator not running for president, and noted the one thing D.C. can agree on is who will not be speaker. He then pointed to CACI’s executive director, former state House Speaker Chuck Berry, and said a petition was circulating to put Berry in the post.
The line about Gardner being an environmentalist drew this response on Twitter from Conservation Colorado: “Interesting.” His environmental record was criticized during the campaign.