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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CLASS ACT: learning provided by the Colorado County Clerks Association

Two Colorado Secretary of State staffers, Trevor Timmons, the chief information officer, and Rich Schliep, the chief security officer, talk with Prowers County Clerk Jana Coen about security breaches during the Colorado County Clerks Association conference in Snowmass Village last week. (SOS photo)

Think of it as a kind of summer school for county clerks and their staffs.

A seminar about a program that allows survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking to purchase homes and file those records with county clerks without revealing their location.

Workshops on the Russians and election security.

And a class on election costs and reimbursements.

That’s some of what the Colorado County Clerks Association summer conference offered to attendees at the Westin in Snowmass Village last week.

“I learned a lot,” said Otero County Clerk and Recorder Sharon Sisnroy.

The county will be getting a new system for Motor Vehicle records and will handle property records differently, in addition to needing to educate unaffiliated voters who will automatically receive ballots in the mail for next year’s primary election.

“There’s a lot going on next year so I guess I will be going out with a bang,” said Sisnroy, who has worked at the clerk’s office for 42 years and won’t seek re-election in 2018.

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Wayne Williams focuses on voter confidence at elections summit

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Amber McReynolds, director of Denver Elections, at the GET Summit.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams addressed the issue of trust in elections and what states can do to rebuild confidence when he spoke this week at the first ever Global Election Technology Summit.

The GET Summit was organized by Startup Policy Lab, which invited bi-partisan leaders and innovators in elections, technology and other areas to get their input. Williams was a keynote speaker at the summit held Wednesday and Thursday in  San Francisco.

Colorado is viewed as being on the cutting edge of election technology. In an attempt to move the state from its  checkerboard pattern of voting systems, Williams in 2015 selected Dominion Voting Systems to provide equipment to Colorado’s 64 counties. The selection came after a pilot program and the recommendation of a committee.

In addition, county clerks and their staffs currently are undergoing training to learn how to perform the latest in post-election audits.

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A text, not an app. Who knew? Not me.

Global Mobile President Jim Snyder, left, and CEO Lee Durham, right, flank Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at today’s National Association of Secretaries of State conference. (SOS photo)

One of my more memorable moments as the press person for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams came last summer when I asked my intern to proofread a proposed release with the headline, “There’s an app for that.”

Julia Sunny scanned the release and said, “But it’s not an app.”

What? Sure it was. Coloradans could simply text the word “Colorado” or “CO” to “2Vote” (28683) on their smartphones, and then open the link to the SOS’ online voter registration and election information site.

“It has to be an app,” I said. “We recorded Wayne in a video talking about an app.”

“It’s not an app,” Sunny repeated.

I was reminded of that unfortunate moment today when I met Lee Durham, the chief executive officer of Global Mobile, a Georgia-based company that developed the texting service. Global Mobile execs were at National Association of Secretaries of State, which is holding its winter conference in Washington, D.C.

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Two election managers, from Denver, El Paso County, receive honors

Denver Clerk and Recorder Deb Johnson and Denver elections director Amber McReynolds. (Photo by Alton Dillard)
Denver Clerk and Recorder Deb Johnson and Denver elections director Amber McReynolds. (File photo by Alton Dillard/Denver Elections)

Denver Elections has won its latest prestigious award, for its first-in-the-nation innovation that allows voters to sign petitions and register to vote on a tablet instead of paper.

Denver received the Outstanding Achievement in International Institutional Engagement and Electoral Ergonomy from the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies (ICPS) for its eSign/VRD.

“Some of the past award winners from the ICPS include former President Jimmy Carter, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former South African President Nelson Mandela,”  elections director Amber McReynolds said in a news release.  “To be recognized for our efforts is both humbling and indicative of our commitment to create innovative solutions that better serve our customers.

Meanwhile, another elections director,  Liz Olson, was named the Leader of the Year in the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s office. The award typically does not go to someone in management.

“On the heels of a tremendously challenging and historical presidential election, it’s more than fitting to acknowledge the exceptional leadership skills of the person at the head of our Election Department, manager Liz Olson,” the El Paso County Clerk’s office posted on its Facebook page.

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