Two Colorado counties receive election awards

Denver Clerk and Recorder Deb Johnson and Denver elections director Amber McReynolds rack up another award, this one from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. (Photo by Alton Dillard)

Two Colorado counties — Denver and El Paso — recently received awards for some of the best practices in election administration nationwide.

The annual “Clearie” awards recognize outstanding innovations in election administration that can serve as examples for other officials and jurisdictions to emulate.

This year’s award categories celebrate excellence in election innovations, voting accessibility and recruiting, training and retaining election workers, according to the Election Assistance Commission’s website.

Denver County Clerk Deb Johnson received the award for “Outstanding Innovations in Election Administration” for the launch of eSign, the first-in-the-nation mobile petition signing application, which interfaces with a voter database and keeps a running tally of signatures.

El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman speaks to voters through an interpreter during an open house at the Independence Centerin 2016 to show options for voters with disabilities. (El Paso County Clerk’s office)

El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman  received the award for “Improving Accessibility for Voters with Disabilities” for its partnership with the Independence Center to host an open house for voters with disabilities to practice on accessible voting machines, provide etiquette training to over 200 election judges, and use a highly accessible center as a voter service and polling center.

“Once again, Colorado’s election officials are being recognized for their outstanding and innovative efforts when it comes to elections,” Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams said. “I’m proud of them.”

Prior to the development of eSign, Denver candidates had to collect signatures on paper petitions, turn them into the Denver Elections Division and wait for them to be verified. Historically, 30-35 percent of those signatures were invalid, compared to just 1-3 percent of signatures collected using eSign.

“We are truly honored to receive the Clearie Award from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission for our continued commitment to innovation,” said Amber McReynolds, director of elections for the City and County of Denver. “We continue to find new and creative ways to make elections processes more convenient for our customers and are grateful to the EAC for this recognition.”

Read moreTwo Colorado counties receive election awards

El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman: thinking outside the big box

El Paso County’s newest 24-7 ballot box is huge, and was custom made to accommodate all the ballots received at the East Library location. (EPC photo)

When it comes to elections, El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman can now boast opening the first 24-hour vehicle registration kiosk in the state and installing the largest ballot-drop box in Colorado – and possibly the country.

The kiosk opened one week ago today and someone took advantage of it at 1:50 a.m. the next day. Broerman joked that he’s not sure if a customer wanted to see if the kiosk truly was a 24-7 operation, or if he or she was doing some bar hopping and realized the car tags were expired.

As for what is Broerman is calling The MOAB  — The Mother of All Ballot Boxes — it was a custom built and is 68 percent larger by volume than the largest industry box. That’s a whole lot box but it was needed for a whole lot of customers. Broerman said the 24-hour ballot box at East Library in Colorado Springs was so heavily used it had to be emptied four or five times a day.

When he talked with Fort Knox Ballot Box Co. he was told that the box at the library already was the biggest one the company makes. The company came up with a couple of custom designs.

“They offered to make an even bigger box than the one we selected but it was so massive I thought we were going to have to have an FAA-approved landing light on it,” Broerman said, with a laugh.

Read moreEl Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman: thinking outside the big box

Colorado election officials stand out at national conference

Colorado’s election officials racked up the awards at this year’s Election Center conference, which was held in California. From left to right: Arapahoe County Elections Director Jennifer Morrell, Denver Elections’ Amanda Beach, the voter records manager, Amber McReynolds, director of Denver Elections, El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman and Denver County Clerk Debra Johnson.

By Lizzie Stephani

Colorado election officials shone at the Election Center’s 33rd national conference, winning several prestigious awards and gaining certification or re-certification as election administrators.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams, as well as members of various clerks’ offices,  attended the conference in Garden Grove, Calif., which ended Wednesday.

“Colorado’s county clerks have one of the highest participation rates in the Election Center and it was exciting to see Colorado’s clerks win awards and their staffers graduate at this year’s national conference,” Williams said. “Colorado won three of the 10 awards that were handed out.”

El Paso and Denver counties, and the Colorado County Clerks Association were recognized for their work in serving their voters with professional best practices.

Read moreColorado election officials stand out at national conference

From deputy clerk to deputy treasurer: Ryan Parsell’s new job

Ryan Parsell.

It looks like Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams might have a new carpool buddy: Today state Treasurer Walker Stapleton announced he hired Ryan Parsell to serve as his deputy treasurer.

Both Parsell and Williams live in Colorado Springs. The treasurer’s office is located at the state Capitol in  Denver, the secretary of state’s office is two blocks north, on Broadway.

The two will have plenty to talk about. Williams hired Parsell as his public information officer when he served as the El Paso County clerk and recorder. Williams’ successor in that job, Chuck Broerman, added deputy clerk duties to Parsell’s job.

Williams was thrilled with the appointment.

“Walker Stapleton’s selection of Ryan Parsell as his deputy treasurer demonstrates the quality of individuals who work for Colorado’s county clerks and recorders,” Williams said. “Coloradans trust our county clerks and I know Ryan will carry that trust forward.”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams holds Gracelynn Parsell, the daughter of his former staffer Ryan Parsell, at a recent event in Colorado Springs. (FB photo)

Parsell was equally complimentary.

“Serving in the clerk’s office — especially with great clerks like Chuck Broerman and Wayne Williams — has taught me much and has prepared me for this role,” he said. “I appreciate all that they have taught me about good government, transparency and fiscal responsibility.”

Kudos to reporter Joey Bunch with Colorado Politics for this great gem when writing about Stapleton’s appointment of Parsell:

He doesn’t have to be sworn in, which is good, since the last guy swore himself out of a job.

Parsell replaces Jon Forbes, who turned in his resignation after cursing, including the f bomb, at the state PERA board last month.

I met Parsell in person in 2013 when covering the election to recall two seated Democratic state senators, John Morse of Colorado Springs and Angela Giron of Pueblo, over their votes on gun bills.  I couldn’t get over then how much Parsell looked like my former boss at The Denver Post, Curtis Hubbard.

I remember when Parsell was supposed to help Williams when the secretary and his wife, Holly, moved into a smaller home. Williams loved ribbing Parsell about the “excuse” he used to get out of the move: “My wife Christiana is in labor.”

Oh yeah, they’re going to have plenty to talk about.

Two election managers, from Denver, El Paso County, receive honors

Denver Clerk and Recorder Deb Johnson and Denver elections director Amber McReynolds. (Photo by Alton Dillard)
Denver Clerk and Recorder Deb Johnson and Denver elections director Amber McReynolds. (File photo by Alton Dillard/Denver Elections)

Denver Elections has won its latest prestigious award, for its first-in-the-nation innovation that allows voters to sign petitions and register to vote on a tablet instead of paper.

Denver received the Outstanding Achievement in International Institutional Engagement and Electoral Ergonomy from the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies (ICPS) for its eSign/VRD.

“Some of the past award winners from the ICPS include former President Jimmy Carter, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former South African President Nelson Mandela,”  elections director Amber McReynolds said in a news release.  “To be recognized for our efforts is both humbling and indicative of our commitment to create innovative solutions that better serve our customers.

Meanwhile, another elections director,  Liz Olson, was named the Leader of the Year in the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s office. The award typically does not go to someone in management.

“On the heels of a tremendously challenging and historical presidential election, it’s more than fitting to acknowledge the exceptional leadership skills of the person at the head of our Election Department, manager Liz Olson,” the El Paso County Clerk’s office posted on its Facebook page.

Read moreTwo election managers, from Denver, El Paso County, receive honors