Douglas County program: “A shining example to the rest of the state”

Douglas County Clerk Melvin Klotz, his predecessor, Jack Arrowsmith, Douglas County elections director Sheri Davis, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Douglas County School Board President Meghann Silverthorn at a board work session Tuesday night in Castle Rock. The election officials presented the board with an award for allowing high schools to partner with elections. (SOS photo)
Douglas County Clerk Melvin Klotz, his predecessor, Jack Arrowsmith, Douglas County elections director Sheri Davis, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Douglas County School Board President Meghann Silverthorn at a board work session Tuesday night in Castle Rock. The election officials presented the board with an award for allowing high schools to partner with elections. (SOS photo)

The Douglas County School District’s impressive program that uses high schools as voting centers and students as election judges grew out of frustration with the 2006 election.

That year, voters in Douglas — and Denver County — stood in long lines for hours or skipped voting.

Jack Arrowsmith, sworn in as Douglas County clerk and recorder in 2007, said a review of what went wrong determined in part the county needed better polling locations and a variety of election judges.

“Sometimes out of adversity, really good things happen,” Arrowsmith told the Douglas County Board of Education at its work study session Tuesday night.

Arrowsmith was part of a delegation of officials that presented the Board of Education with a NASS Medallion award from the National Association of Secretaries of State for “its leadership and determination in making available facilities for polling places.”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams told the board that one county clerk wanted to install a ballot drop box outside a state-owned community college, but was turned way.

“They response they got was, ‘That’s not part of our mission,’” he said. “So I’m here to say, ‘Thank you for recognizing it is part of your mission.’”

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Secretary Wayne Williams to honor Douglas County school board

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams will present an award to the Douglas County Board of Education Tuesday night. (Carol Lawrence, The Gazette/Special to the SOS)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams will present an award to the Douglas County Board of Education Tuesday night. (Carol Lawrence, The Gazette/Special to the SOS)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Tuesday will honor the Douglas County Board of Education for its “phenomenal” program that that pairs education and elections.

All nine Douglas County high schools cancel classes on Election Day and use the facilities as voter service and polling centers. Students serve as election judges and rather than being paid individually for their work, the money is donated to that student’s favorite school activity.

For its effort, the school board will receive a NASS Medallion Award from the National Association of Secretaries of State, an award given to those who make an enormous difference.

Williams will present the award to the Douglas County school board at its work session at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the board offices, 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock.

“When I was El Paso County clerk we had school districts that told us we couldn’t use their facilities. We had one that told us we could but informed us right before the election that they were no longer available. We wound up scrambling to find a replacement site,” Williams said.

That facility had already been weatherized for the winter, and the clerk’s office had to bring in space heaters for the elections judges.

Attorney John Moye, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and former Secretary of State Donetta Davidson after their NASS Medallion Award ceremony in 2015.
Attorney John Moye, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and former Secretary of State Donetta Davidson after their NASS Medallion Award ceremony in 2015.

And that’s why the Douglas County school district stands out, Williams said.

“Voters have plenty of places to park. The election judges have been able to raise thousands of dollars for various programs. And the students get credit for public service, which they need to graduate,” he said.

“It’s a pretty phenomenal program. I hope it inspires other school districts.”

Williams last year handed out NASS Medallion Awards to former Secretary of State Donetta Davidson and attorney John Moye.