Thankful thoughts this Thanksgiving

Local, state and federal election officials as well as election activists and observers, gather for a group shot at the Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder’s election warehouse on Nov. 17, 2017. The participants, including Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Arapahoe Clerk Matt Crane, helped pull ballots in preparation for the county’s ballot tabulation. (Arapahoe County photo)

Here is what some of the SOS staffers what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving. Family and friends topped the list, but here are some of the more creative responses-

• “I’m thankful for my job, I JUST LOVE IT!!  It allows me to work with a lot of veterans as well as community members.  Cannot be thankful enough to the veterans for serving our country.” Darleen Herrera, charitable gaming investigator.

Catherine Hill’s granddaughter, L.C. Cassandra. L.C. means Love Child. Her right kidney was removed in May 2016 because of a tumor taking 70 percent of it. She had 13 chemo treatments.

• “I am thankful for the opportunity to go visit family and to have family visit us. I am also thankful that the risk-limiting audit has proceeded in a fashion that neither we nor the clerks have to work on Thanksgiving.” Wayne Williams, secretary of state.

• “Just living! My 5-year-old granddaughter has been cancer-free for a year!” Catherine Hill, elections administrative assistant.

• “I am thankful to be able to work in an office that has so many kind and generous people, and which is located in a state that makes every day a good and different day.” Chris Johnson, executive administrative assistant.

• “I’m thankful for the passage of time…without which our restrooms would have never seen completion…without which we would be forever doomed to endure multiple daily journeys to the second floor….LOL, I think I am probably speaking for a LOT of people in my thankfulness!” Myra Rooney, campaign finance specialist.

• “I’m thankful that my parents left South Florida to start their family in Colorado, so I had the Rocky Mountains as my playground and not the Everglades.” Chris Cash, charities program manager.

• “I am thankful for my boss, Wayne.” Suzanne Staiert, deputy secretary of state.

Lynn Bartels’ response might be my favorite of all –

Dwight Shellman, SOS county support manager, with all his essentials for the first statewide risk-limiting audit. (SOS photo)

• “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it involves food but no gift-buying. Last year, I posted on the SOS blog a column I wrote about Thanksgiving in 1991 when I was working as a columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune.

I have plenty to be thankful for but this year I’m especially grateful for Dwight Shellman, the Secretary of State’s county support manager.

Dwight is our chain-smoking, coffee-swilling, loveable attention-to-detail guy who has been such an integral part of the risk-limiting audit our office and Colorado’s county clerks just conducted to show that the election results were accurate.

The post-election audit attracted election folks from across the country, which only added to Dwight’s 24-hour state of stress. Another SOS staffer, Ben Schler, once joked that if Dwight managed a Pizza Hut he would be outside by the dumpster on Super Bowl Sunday, smoking and muttering, “I just know we’re going to run out of dough. I just know we’re going to run out of dough.”

Even if we hadn’t done a risk-limiting audit this year, I would still be just as grateful for Dwight. As the former elections director for Pitkin County, he knows what it takes to run an election – hence his devotion to our county clerks and their staffs.

Oh, and he has a wicked sense of humor, something to be thankful for in any person.

Enjoy Thanksgiving, dear readers!”

A roll of the dice and off goes Colorado to audit elections in a new way

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams explains what’s next after multi-colored 10-sided dice were used Friday to establish a “seed” to randomly select ballots for each county to audit. (SOS photo/Judd Choate)

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.

From left, U.S. Election Assistance Commission chairman  Matt Masterson, Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane and Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall wait for dice to be rolled, the first step in randomly selecting ballots for each county to audit during the RLA. (SOS photo)

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.

Read more

Can you say “elections conference room” in Russian?

The “ballot” that lists the options for the name of a new conference room in the Elections Division at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

UPDATE: The conference room has been named, and no, we did not use any of @NotScottGessler‘s ideas. The winning name is “Juniper.”

After 670 days, a room filled with junk at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office is finally becoming an official conference room for the elections division.

The division welcomed suggestions as to what the new conference room should be called, resulting in some pretty hilarious ideas — even if some of them are a little inside baseball. Dwight Shellman? Risk-limiting audits? And “Room Next to Steve’s Office,” referring to campaign finance guru Steve Bouey. The elections staff will conduct an election for the winner  — paper ballots allowed — which will be announced at the end of the month.

Elections staffers Caleb Thornton, Shayla Gavin-Futas and Olivia Mendoza testing out the new conference room. (SOS photo)

Among the suggestions:

конференц-зал выборов — which means Elections Conference Room in Russian

“Undisclosed Location”

 

 

 

Colorado’s mail ballot elections ignite interest in Alaskan officials

Claire Richardson, the Alaskan lieutenant governor’s chief of staff, flanked by Alaskan elections staffers, during a visit Thursday to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. (SOS photo)

Colorado is one of the top five states in the country for voter turnout, due in part to its mail-ballot system for elections.

Secretary of State Williams encourages election officials from other states to visit and see how elections in Colorado are run. Alaskan officials did just that Thursday.

Alaskan election officials, including four people from the secretary of state’s office, one state senator, and two interest group representatives visited Denver Elections and then the Secretary of State’s office.

Alaska State Sen. Gary Stevens of Kodiak holds us the plate of salmon he declined to eat while at a Denver restaurant Thursday. He jokingly suggested it was farm-raised and not worthy of an Alaska resident.

During lunch at Maggiano’s, the Alaskan delegation mentioned that they were envious that the Colorado Secretary of State’s election division is housed in one location, and not spread across the state. They run across many challenges running an election in such a large state where the Capitol, Juneau, is accessible only by plane or ferry.

Secretary Williams, Colorado elections director Judd Choate, and county support manager Dwight Shellman, sat down with the Alaskan officials to discuss Colorado elections’ processes and what Colorado does to maintain the integrity of elections.

Shellman explained the innovative risk-limiting audits system Colorado will utilize in the next election. Colorado is the first state to implement statewide RLAs to elections, a new and better type of post-election audit.

Read more

Godspeed, Jerome Lovato. The Colorado SOS will miss you.

Aspen County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill, left, and her elections applications administrator, Greg McPherson, right, flank Jerome Lovato, with the Colorado Secretary of State’s election staff during training in Rifle in April. Today is Lovato’s last day with the Secretary of State’s office. (SOS photo)

A decade ago, Jerome Lovato entered into a two-week contract to retest voting systems for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. That turned into a career in the Elections Division that will take another twist Monday when he begins work with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

“Professionally,” Lovato said, “it’s a great opportunity.”

But uprooting the family from his native Colorado to Maryland is a bit unsettling, he said. So is leaving the the folks he has worked with at the Secretary of State’s office, particularly Danny Casias, Jessi Romero and Dwight Shellman.

“It was the best team I have ever worked with and I am grateful to have been a part of this team,” Lovato wrote in an e-mail today, his last day, to the entire SOS staff. “I am blessed to have been able to work here, and am proud of what we have accomplished over the past 10 years. Thank you to all who have contributed to my personal and professional development. God bless.”

The feeling is mutual, as you can tell by these tweets from Shellman, the SOS’ county support manager:

Read more