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

Elections panel to make recommendation on voting machines to Secretary Wayne Williams

Members of the Pilot Election Review Committee looking at voting systems for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams are, left to right, attorney Jennifer Levin with Disability Law Colorado; El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman; Dwight Shellman with the secretary of state's office; Eagle County Clerk Teak Simonton; former Secretary of State Donetta Davidson; Clarissa Arellano Thomas, PERC chair and a member of an earlier group looking at voting machines; former Morgan County Clerk and Recorder Connie Ingmir; and Weld County Commissioner Steve Moreno, former clerk and recorder. (Eddie Morgan/SOS)
Members of the Pilot Election Review Committee looking at voting systems for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams are, left to right, attorney Jennifer Levin with Disability Law Colorado; El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman; Dwight Shellman with the secretary of state’s office; Eagle County Clerk Teak Simonton; former Secretary of State Donetta Davidson; Clarissa Arellano Thomas, PERC chair and a member of an earlier group looking at voting machines; former Morgan County Clerk and Recorder Connie Ingmire; and Weld County Commissioner Steve Moreno, former clerk and recorder. (Eddie Morgan/SOS)

Four voting machine companies on Friday pitched their systems to a committee appointed by Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams to look at moving the state to a universal voting system.

The Pilot Election Review Committee, or PERC,  has been meeting for months and members checked machines from the four firms that provided equipment for eight counties in the Nov. 3 election.

“The PERC members bring vast experience from many different levels across the state of Colorado,” Williams said. “I appreciate their dedication and diligence and look forward to their recommendation.”

A video of the day-long hearing will be available at the Colorado Secretary of State’s website next week. The committee will next meet on Dec. 4, where pilot county election staff has been invited to discuss their experiences with voting systems and answer questions of committee. The committee is expected to vote on a recommendation to Secretary Williams at its Dec. 11 meeting.

Read moreElections panel to make recommendation on voting machines to Secretary Wayne Williams

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 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

Colorado secretary of state visits Mesa County

Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Monday visited Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Sheila Rainer and elections director Amanda Polson. Mesa is one of eight counties involved in a pilot program testing voting equipment in the Nov. 3 election.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Monday visited Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Sheila Reiner and elections director Amanda Polson. Mesa is one of eight counties involved in a pilot program testing voting equipment in the Nov. 3 election.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams dropped by the Mesa County clerk and recorder’s office on Monday to visit with clerk Sheila Reiner and discuss voting equipment the county will be using on Nov. 3.

Mesa County is one of eight volunteer counties that is testing equipment from four different voting-machine companies. Each of the four vendors is operating in one large county and a smaller county. Dominion is providing the equipment used in Denver and Mesa counties.

The system must be able to process mail ballots and allow for in-person voting for those who still mark their ballots in person at county polling centers, Williams said.

The other companies and the counties they are partnered with are: Clear Ballot, Adams and Gilpin; ES&S in Jefferson and Teller; and Hart Intercivic in Douglas and Garfield.

The state is looking to eventually adopt a uniform voting system.

Reiner praised the secretary of state.

“Wayne’s accessible. He’s been a good partner,” she said.

Williams will be in Alamosa Tuesday for the fall conference for the southern county clerks.  He was in Limon last week for the fall conference for the eastern county clerks.