Colorado celebrates 125 years of women getting the right to vote

Women in Colorado campaign for the passage of the 19th amendment. ( The Autry Museum photo)

On Nov.  7th, the day after this year’s general election, Colorado will celebrate 125 years of women getting the right to vote.

The Atlas Obscura Society Denver will host a celebration event tonight at the historic Evans School. Activities include an interactive presentation by HistoriCity and a speech by Amber McReynolds, the executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute.

After two failed attempts, the women’s suffrage movement won voting rights for women by a state referendum in 1893. The amendment was drafted by J. Warner Mills, a Denver lawyer, and sponsored by state Rep. J.T. Heath of Montrose County. “The opposition saloonkeepers and brewers, who feared women voters would crack down on liquor, were not taking the suffrage campaign seriously and mounted little opposition,” according to an Internet article on the vote.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams sits with students at Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver one year ago before presenting seniors with the Eliza Pickrell Routt award for voter registration. (SOS photo)

Colorado became the second state to enfranchise women behind Wyoming, paving the way for the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920.

One of the leaders in the suffrage movement was Eliza Pickrell Routt, the wife of Colorado’s first governor, John Routt.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has honored the former first lady and her contributions to women’s suffrage by naming an award after her. It goes to high schools where 85 percent or more of the senior class has registered to vote.

“When women got the right to, she was the first one to register,” he said.

Read moreColorado celebrates 125 years of women getting the right to vote

All about U — and enjoying life

Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert and her wooden U.

A chaise lounge. Wine glasses. A sign to the pool. Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne’s Staiert’s decorated U is totally her.

The state seal was a nice touch, too, considering the Secretary of State has control over the use of the seal. And here’s to the flip flops above the V O T E.

Secretary Wayne Williams is handing out the U’s as part of the UChooseCO campaign to educate unaffiliated voters that they can participate in the June 26 primary election, but they can only vote one ballot. The campaign has a web pageFacebook page, a Twitter account and its own hashtag, #UChooseCO.

Other staffers also have decorated U’s including myself and Secretary Williams, while some SOS U’s are still in the design stage. (Tim Griesmer, get on it.)

At least every week day between now and the June 26 primary the Secretary of State’s office will highlight a wooden U or two. They’ve been decorated by lawmakers, county clerks, a former mayor and a former governor. Check out more decorated U’s on Facebook and Twitter.

Governor signs two bills backed by Secretary of State Williams

Gov. John Hickenlooper signs into law two-elections related measures as Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, to the governor’s right, SOS staffers, lobbyists, lawmakers and election activists look on. (SOS photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Deputy Secretary Suzanne Staiert looked on this week as Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law two bills  that will help to make Colorado’s elections even more accurate, accessible and transparent.

One measure involved updating and changing current election law, while the other concerns voter registration and the criminal justice system.

Williams often reminds Coloradans that when he took office in 2015 he was told that because the Senate was controlled by Republicans and the House by Democrats he would have a hard time getting anything through the split legislature. Instead, a majority of the legislation his office has worked on or testified on behalf of has passed.

“I think we continue to dispel the myth,” the secretary said, “that election issues have to be partisan and, yes, you can get things done.”

Here’s a look at the two bills signed Tuesday:

Read moreGovernor signs two bills backed by Secretary of State Williams

From Denver to the plains — three Colorado High Schools receive voter registration awards

Kit Carson High School, Denver South High School and Peak to Peak High School all recently received the Eliza Pickrell Routt award for registering 85 percent or more of eligible seniors to vote.

Kit Carson High School

Secretary Williams with the seniors in attendance at the Eliza Pickrell Routt award ceremony in Cheyenne county. (Pat Daugherty photo)

This is the second year in a row that the seniors at Kit Carson HS have received this award. Last year, seniors Jaxon Crawford and Bradley Johnson registered not only students at their high school but also at their rival high school, Eads, to win the Eliza Pickrell Routt award for both schools. The two boys worked with Inspire Colorado, a nonprofit dedicated to getting high schoolers registered to vote.

During their efforts last year, the junior class also participated in registering, but since the award is only for seniors, they had to wait. Kit Carson exceeded the 85 percent registration requirement again thanks to Crawford and Johnson, who were also recognized with this year’s award. Every member of the senior class registered to vote this year.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams traveled to the eastern plains to recognize these students and present the awards. Crawford and Johnson were not in attendance because of college finals, and the majority of the senior class was at a Rockies game as part of the senior sendoff.

Cheyenne County Clerk Pat Daugherty congratulated the students on their second award in a row and thanked Williams for making the trip.

 

Denver South High School

Colorado state elections director Judd Choate, left, South HS seniors Sophie Cardin and Tori Wyman, and South HS Principal Jen Hanson. (SOS photo)

In Denver’s Wash Park neighborhood, the South High Rebels senior class were presented with the Eliza Pickrell Routt award for the first time. Colorado state elections director Judd Choate presented the award.

Two students, Torie Wyman and Sophie Cardin, led the voter registration effort and registered 85 percent of their eligible peers to vote. Inspire Colorado partnered with the school and offered updates and support. Wyman is headed to Colorado State University to study journalism and Cardin, a Boettcher scholar, is going to Colorado College to study philosophy.

“We foster student voice at South and this will help them carry this into their adult lives,” Principal Jen Hanson said. “They are our future and need to know how they can impact change.”

 

Peak to Peak High School

Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert, left, Peak to Peak senior Robin Peterson, center, and Inspire Colorado regional coordinator, Hannah Sieben, right. (SOS photo)

In Boulder, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert presented the Eliza Pickrell Routt award to Peak to Peak for the second year in a row. 119 of the 140 seniors registered to vote, putting them at 85 percent registration.

Senior Robin Peterson pioneered the effort this year and last year. She had help from Inspire, who trained her on voter registration and leadership in civic engagement and provided her with support and materials for the days that the school did voter registration drives.

Peterson will be attending Claremont McKenna College in California to study government and politics this fall.

“Robin was a pleasure to work with and really did this out of her own interest,” Hannah Sieben, Inspire regional coordinator, said.

Peterson’s English teacher, Josh Benson, and three other students, Elle Triem, Bella Sicker and Sudeepti Nareddy assisted in registering students.

“It’s difficult to make a difference when you’re young,” Peterson said. “I feel that a simple act like registering my peers to vote has the most profound impact on our country and in Colorado.”

To learn more about the Eliza Pickrell Routt award and how your school can participate, visit our website.

 

Gov. Hickenlooper signs bill dealing with school board race spending

Gov. John HIckenlooper signs House Bill 1282 dealing with school board race campaign spending into law Wednesday afternoon. Among those present, from left to right, Secretary of State staffer Melissa Polk, Steamboat Springs school board member Roger Good, Elena Nunez of Common Cause, former SOS intern Lizzie Stephani, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert, Sen. Nancy Todd, SOS staffer Steve Bouey, Sen. Jack Tate, Reps. Brittany Pettersen and KC Becker, SOS staffer Tim Griesmer and Jeffco parent Shawna Fritzler. (SOS photo)
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday signs into law House Bill 1282, which deals with school board race campaign spending. Among those present, from left to right, Secretary of State staffer Melissa Polk, Steamboat Springs school board member Roger Good, Elena Nunez of Common Cause, former SOS intern Lizzie Stephani, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert, Sen. Nancy Todd, SOS staffer Steve Bouey, Sen. Jack Tate, Reps. Brittany Pettersen and KC Becker, SOS staffer Tim Griesmer and Jeffco parent Shawna Fritzler. (SOS photo)

A Steamboat Springs school board member frustrated that he couldn’t find out until after an election how much outside groups poured into to elect their favorite board candidates watched Wednesday as Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an accountability bill into law.

Roger Good testified on behalf of House Bill 1282 at a Senate committee hearing — he would have been at the House hearing, too, he said, but he was out of state.

“I wanted to be a voice for rural Colorado,” Good said after the bill signing.

House Bill 1282 bill requires the disclosure of independent expenditures of more than $1,000 within 60 days prior to the election. It also requires disclosure of spending on advertisements, billboards and direct mailings. It does not deal with individual donations to candidates; a bill to limit those contributions died.

Currently, information about independent expenditures in school board races has to be filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office quarterly, including a report on Oct. 15 before the November election. But the next report doesn’t  have to be filed until Jan. 15 of the following year, allowing donations throughout October and early November to be kept quiet until after the election.

That’s why Good got involved.

“Anyone should be able to give whatever they want to any candidate they want, but it’s in the public’s best interest to know who’s giving,” Good told his hometown paper, the Steamboat Springs Pilot & Today, on Wednesday.

Read moreGov. Hickenlooper signs bill dealing with school board race spending