A 77-year-old man who was a charter member of Common Cause when it formed in 1970 became emotional today when he was honored by the Colorado chapter of the grassroots organization.
Roy Wardell, who now lives in Platteville, was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin in 1970 when he saw an ad in the Capital Times about being a “member of the people’s lobby.” And so he signed up.
Since then, Wardell has served on the board of Common Cause in Minnesota and in Colorado, starting in 2009 through the beginning of this year.
“I am so proud of what Common Cause does,” Wardell said, when he gained his composure. “Don’t miss a chance to support the kind of work Common Cause does.”
A process to audit Colorado’s elections in a different manner drew national attention Friday when participants at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office plucked names from Rockies and Broncos baseball caps to see who would roll 20 colored 10-sided dice. The numbers were used to come up with a “seed” to randomly select ballots from the Nov. 7 election for the counties to audit.
The light-hearted ceremony kicked off work that began in 2009 when the Colorado General Assembly passed legislation requiring every county after every election to create a risk-limiting audit, a procedure that provides strong statistical evidence that the election outcome is right and has a high probability of correcting a wrong outcome.
“It was an incredibly successful first effort,” said the Secretary of State’s Dwight Shellman, the county support manager. “I’m really proud of our team and of all the county clerks. We are already in the process of working with the clerks and interested stakeholders to collect lessons learned to make the process even better in the future.”
The Secretary of State’s office will release a report Monday on the first steps of the audit.
The invite from attorney Martha Tierney took me by surprise: “Friend, I would be delighted if you would join me at my table in support of Colorado Common Cause for a Champions for Democracy luncheon and fundraiser.”
As a journalist, I tangled over the years with Tierney and Common Cause on several issues, including Amendment 41, the ethics measure that is less than crystal clear, and ballot proposals that limited campaign-finance donations, which critics said just drove the money underground.
And so I e-mailed Tierney, the attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party, to say that if I had been put on that list by mistake I totally understood. To my surprise, she actually had invited me.
The event Thursday at the Denver Consistory was a reminder of the good work Common Cause does do.
“As many of you know who have been longtime supporters of Common Cause, our first campaign in the 1970s was working to pass the Sunshine Law,” said Elena Nuñez, the executive director of the group.
Nuñez lauded Republican Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams for convening a group to study how the state’s open records laws can be updated to reflect strides in technology. An open-records bill introduced in the 2016 died after stakeholders said it was flawed.
“And that’s one of the keys to our success, we’re able to work with our partners, even when we don’t initially agree, to find common ground,” she said. “Working together we’ve made great strides to reclaim our democracy and we have great opportunities ahead with your support we can work toward a government that truly is of, by, and for the people.”