Secretary Williams visits Jackson, Grand county clerks

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visits with Jackson County Clerk Hayle Johnson and her staff in Walden on Monday. In the foreground is Johnson, who is standing, then Deputy Clerk Margaret Caulk and Deputy Clerk Tammi Gonzales behind the computer screen. (SOS photo)

Monday was the first day that county clerks could mail ballots to in-state voters, which made for interesting visits when Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams stopped in Jackson and Grand counties that day.

The number of active voters in scenic Jackson County is only 983, which is why they hand count their ballots, Clerk Hayle Johnson said.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Grand County Clerk Sara Rosene loaded boxes with ballots into the back of a truck to deliver to the post office. (SOS photo)

The secretary then headed south to equally beautiful Grand County, where Clerk Sara Rosene, her staff and election judges loaded boxes filled with ballots into two large county vehicles in a race to get them to the Post Office.

“As someone who used to be a clerk and recorder, I know the work that goes into getting ballots to the voters,” said Williams, who worked in El Paso County before being elected secretary of state in 2014.

All clerks in Colorado are mailing a record number of ballots for this election because it’s the first time in history unaffiliated voters can automatically participate in the primary elections. In the past, those voters did not receive primary ballots unless they affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic party.

The number of active Republican and unaffiliated voters in Grand is nearly the same, 4,299 to 4,148, respectively, with Democrats trailing at 2,415 voters. But Republicans rule the roost in Jackson, with 677 active GOP voters, while there are 196 unaffiliated voters and 99 Democrats. Both counties have small numbers of third-party voters, who won’t be participating in the primary because they have no contested races.

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$52 per vote? County clerks explore changing early-voting requirements

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams addresses the Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission on Tuesday, which discussed early-voting requirements. Seated at the table are other commission members, including from left to right Aurora City Clerk Karen Goldman, Sen.-elect Dominic Moreno, D-Commerce City, and Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams addresses the Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission on Tuesday, which discussed early-voting requirements. Seated at the table are other commission members, from left to right, Aurora City Clerk Karen Goldman, Sen.-elect Dominic Moreno, D-Commerce City, and Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. Behind Moreno is Douglas County Clerk Merlin Klotz. (SOS photo)

Colorado’s county clerks want some leeway when it comes to providing early-voting locations during general elections because of costs, the turnout and the difficulty in securing locations and judges.

Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane said the data suggests the first week could be eliminated – his county spent $52 per vote over those six days. But he said one option for Arapahoe might be reducing locations for that first week from 11 to just the clerk’s office and the four Motor Vehicle offices.

Martha Tierney, the attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party and a commission member, opposed the reductions.

“We saw two- and three-hour lines (on Election Day),” she said. “Let’s not forget that.”

The discussion about polling centers was the lone topic of discussion Tuesday at the fourth meeting of the Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission, which was created by Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with support from legislators and others concerned with elections. The goal of the commission is to come up with solutions to fix election problems identified by Williams, his staff and others.

Williams told the group that he believes the data “clearly shows” that the present number of sites is excessive, but he doesn’t think the first week should be eliminated.

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Independence Institute celebrates its 31st annual Founder’s Night

Colorado Secretary of State presents an award to Second Amendment activist Steve Schreiner at the Independence Institute's 31st annual Founder's dinner. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State presents an award to Second Amendment activist Steve Schreiner at the Independence Institute’s 31st annual Founder’s dinner. (SOS photo)

You know the Independence Institute’s Founder’s dinner Thursday night had to be good when president Jon Caldara said so many tickets were sold it was their most successful fundraiser ever — depending on Tom Tancredo’s bar tab.

Tancredo served as former president of the self-proclaimed free-market think tank before becoming a congressman, presidential candidate and gubernatorial candidate. He didn’t belly up to the bar much but he appeared to appreciate the speeches from the keynote speakers, John Fund with the National Review and Stephen Moore at The Heritage Foundation.

Read moreIndependence Institute celebrates its 31st annual Founder’s Night