El Paso County commissioners honor retiring elections manager Liz Olson

Liz Olson, the retiring elections manager for the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, with four of the five county clerks she  served. From left to right, Pat Kelly, Wayne Williams, who now serves as Colorado’s secretary of state, Bob Balink and the current office holder,  Chuck Broerman. (EPC photo)

Five county clerks. Eleven general elections. Twenty-one years of efficient and excellent service.

And one big retirement party for Liz Olson, the elections manager of the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, who is as respected across the state as she is in El Paso County.

“For more than two decades Liz Olson has set the standard for election officials,” said Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners honored Olson last week with a proclamation and plenty of praise.

“I’ve worked really hard. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished,” Olson said at the end of the ceremony. “I very often put my work before my personal life and I don’t have any regrets. I felt like that’s what the job required. But I do want to tell my family how much I appreciate their support.”

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Colorado’s county clerks prepare for — and dress for — change

The Pitkin County Clerk’s office, with the assistance of Secretary of State Wayne Williams, model hats that reflect the seasons. Left to right: Clerk Janice Vos Caudill, fall; Kelly Curry, winter; Secretary Williams, mud; Beverly Mars, spring; and Mars’ daughter, Shelley Popish, summer. (SOS photo)

How do you come up with costumes when the theme of your conference is the nebulous “change?”

Pitkin County clerk staffer Kelly Cury, with her hat reflecting winter, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, with his hat for “mud” season, take the stage as part of the Colorado County Clerks Association’s costume contest Wednesday. (SOS photo)

Well, the Pitkin County clerk and recorder’s office focused on the changing seasons in one of the most picturesque locales in Colorado. For that effort, Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill and her staff Thursday night won a costume contest at the Colorado County Clerks Association’s winter conference.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams joined the Pitkin staff in modeling hats based on the five seasons.

Yes, five.  Williams wore the hat for “mud” season, you know, “the window of time between when the ski resorts close and when the summer activities pick up again.” With melting snow, there’s lots of mud.

There even was a brief wardrobe malfunction. The string on Williams’ hat broke before the contest started, and Vos Caudill enlisted a project manager with the Colorado Department of Revenue to fix it.

“I told Wayne’s wife (Holly), ‘I hope you don’t mind us dragging him through the mud — season,'” Vos Caudill said. “Wayne was so much fun.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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