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

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 moreColorado’s mail ballot elections ignite interest in Alaskan officials

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

“Hello, this is the Alamosa County clerk”

Alamosa County Clerk Melanie Woodward and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo/Eddie Morgan)
Alamosa County Clerk Melanie Woodward and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo/Eddie Morgan)

By Lynn Bartels and Eddie Morgan

Alamosa County Clerk Melanie Woodward always knew that help was just a phone call away, but Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams reinforced that sentiment during his visit to her office last week.

“It really helped my comfort level,” Woodward said. “The secretary really cares about the counties and the kind of service we receive from his office.”

Woodward is also doing some of the helping, assisting Saguache County Clerk Carla Gomez, whose election director recently stepped down.

“Of course, Carla is getting tons of help from Dwight. He’s so good. He knows what he is talking about,” Woodward said.

“Dwight” is Dwight Shellman, who once was the elections director for the Pitkin County clerk and recorder and now is a favorite of county clerks who called into the SOS.

Read more“Hello, this is the Alamosa County clerk”