Colorado youth making an effort in voter registration

Secretary Wayne Williams with Kit Carson High School seniors Jaxon Crawford, left, and Bradley Johnson, right, who registered students to vote at Kit Carson and Eads high schools.

Check out the video from Secretary Williams’ day on the eastern plains here.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams shared his high school experience when honoring two Colorado high schools on Wednesday for its effort in registering juniors and seniors to vote.

Students Bradley Johnson (back left) and Jaxon Crawford (back right) look on as Secretary Williams presents the Eliza Pickrell Routt award to Eads High School administrators Dawn James (right), Glenn Smith (center), and Betsy Barnett (left).

Students at Eads and Kit Carson high schools were winners of the Eliza Pickrell Routt Award for Outstanding Voter Registration Efforts from the Secretary of State’s office.

Williams told a story he often tells to groups of young people. His high school in Virginia didn’t have a graduating class in 1959 because the town leaders closed the school rather than follow orders to integrate it.

Twenty years later when Williams attended Warren County High School, the leadership hadn’t improved much.

“I moved there and didn’t like the way the leadership was going so I got involved and I was 16 years old. I got all my friends from the high school and we stood outside all the polling places and we completely changed the leadership for that county for the first time in 100 years,” he said.

“So you can have an impact, even without having the ability to vote.”

Kit Carson seniors Jaxon Crawford and Bradley Johnson worked with the group Inspire Colorado to register 100 percent of the senior class at Kit Carson High.

Secretary Wayne Williams with Kiowa County Clerk and Recorder Delisa Weeks at Eads High School.

Not only did Jaxon and Bradley make the effort at their school, but they went to their rival high school, Eads, to get the juniors and seniors there to register.

“I think that all of us adults can learn a little bit about that bipartisan spirit, that we can engage with the people we compete with,” Ryan Drysdale, Inspire Colorado’s program coordinator said.

The award is named after Eliza Pickrell Routt, wife of Gov. John Long Routt after whom Routt County is named. She was the first woman to register to vote in Colorado.

Ouray High School in Ouray and Peak to Peak High School in Lafayette will receive the same honors later this month. Last year, Yuma High School and Eaglecrest High School were the recipients of this award.

To win, 85 percent or more of eligible students must be registered to vote.

Williams also praised the county clerks that serve those two high schools, saying,  “Their purpose really is to try to make it easy for you to participate in the process and that’s what we try to do, but we need you to step up and make those decisions.”

Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Pat Daugherty, Cheyenne County clerk and recorder, at Kit Carson High School.

Pat Daugherty, Cheyenne county clerk and recorder, spoke briefly to Kit Carson students about her office and how grateful she is for the help she receives from various students and teachers on field trips.

“It’s as hard as showing up and letting somebody know you want to get involved,” she joked. “We gladly accept youth judges in the elections.”

Williams left the seniors with praise for their accomplishments and advice as they set off to their next chapter.

“Take that effort you’ve made and keep going with it as you head off into the world.”


Secretary of State Wayne Williams visits Kiowa, Cheyenne and Kit Carson counties

Eads voter Betty Frazee, center, was surprised to see Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams Tuesday she dropped off her ballot to Kiowa County Clerk Delisa Weeks. (SOS)
Eads voter Betty Frazee, center, was surprised to see Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams Tuesday when she dropped off her ballot to Kiowa County Clerk Delisa Weeks. (SOS)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams let out a huge laugh when he heard the story about the Kiowa County voter who needed a replacement ballot: It turns out the voter burned up his first ballot because it was the only paper he could find when lighting his grill.

Williams hit the Eastern Plains Tuesday to visit with three new county clerks who took office in January: Delisa Weeks in Kiowa, Pat Daugherty in Cheyenne and Susan Corliss in Kit Carson. He checked to see how they are doing in preparation for the Nov. 3 election and what kind of assistance the secretary of state’s office can provide them.

“You made it to the end of the world, huh?” Kiowa Chief Deputy Patricia Roper said, when she saw Williams at the office in Eads.

Weeks — who used to be a dispatcher with the sheriff’s office — Roper and Roland Sorensen are the only employees in the clerk’s office. Kiowa, with less than 975 active voters, still counts ballots by hand. (So does Jackson  and San Juan counties.)

Read moreSecretary of State Wayne Williams visits Kiowa, Cheyenne and Kit Carson counties