The Facebook Effect in Colorado

The graphic Facebook showed on users’ news feeds. (SOS photo)

If you have been on Facebook in the past month, there’s a good chance the above graphic showed up on your news feed.

Facebook reminded users of the upcoming primary election on June 26 and encouraged users to register to vote or share that they are registered.

The impact was significant —

“More people registered and more people updated their registration on Tuesday, June 12th than did so on Election Day,” said Judd Choate, the state election director for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

This was the first year unaffiliated voters were allowed to automatically participate. Secretary Williams launched the UChooseCO campaign to inform voters about the new process. Williams handed out wooden U’s for people to decorate and help spread the word. The UChooseCO campaign has a web pageFacebook page, a Twitter account and its own hashtag, #UChooseCO.

The best to you, Henry Sobanet

“Nobody has done more for Colorado than Henry Sobanet. There should be streets, buildings, and airports named after him. Henry stands as the antithesis of everything politics has sadly become. Though he stood at the helm of our budget, he cared not for money, but for making Colorado a better place.”

Budget director Henry Sobanet, center, and the two governors he worked for, Democrat John Hickenlooper on the left and Republican Bill Owens on the right, in 2015. Sobanet’s last day at the Capitol is today. (Sobanet picture)

The year was 2005 and I was assigned to cover the complicated ballot measures Ref C & D, dealing with taxes and the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

I called the governor’s budget director, Henry Sobanet, all hours of the day and night. “Is this correct? What if that happens? Does this mean this?”

These days I’m answering phone calls from reporters.

At closing time recently I posted a Tweet about the ballot rejection rates from unaffiliated voters in two counties. Reporters immediately asked if I had more numbers. “I don’t,” I said,  “but I can call around to the clerks and get some.”

“You would do that on a Friday afternoon?” Megan Verlee of Colorado Public Radio asked.

Yes, because that’s my job.

Sobanet always answered his cell phone. I once had a a fairly lengthy budget conversation with him one Friday night before he finally admitted he was at a party and talking to me from inside someone’s bedroom.

Today is Sobanet’s last day at the state Capitol after serving the state and two governors for 20 years.

Read moreThe best to you, Henry Sobanet

Secretary Wayne Williams plays pivotal role in voter-confidence discussion

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, third from left, was one of six panelists to address voter confidence during the National Association of Secretaries of State winter conference in Washington, D.C. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams believes the hyper scrutiny over elections these days can actually be a good thing so officials have time to make changes before the next general election to increase voter confidence in the system.

“People need to have confidence that their election officials are doing everything they can to maintain the integrity of the election,” Williams said. “We have to be able to respond, to say, ‘We hear the  problem, we’re addressing it.  And we’re trying to make sure the process has that integrity so that people believe their vote is going to count.'”

Williams served as one of six members on a panel during the National Associations of Secretaries of State winter conference last week in Washington, D.C., that examined the public’s trust and confidence in elections.

“I can say without question this was the best run federal election I have ever seen,” said panelist David Becker, the executive director for the Center for Election Innovation and Research.

Read moreSecretary Wayne Williams plays pivotal role in voter-confidence discussion

National Voter Registration Day big success in Colorado

 Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks about voter registration on CBS4. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks about voter registration on CBS4. (SOS photo)

Efforts to urge Coloradans to do their civic duty were highlighted throughout the state Tuesday on National Voter Registration Day.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams gave radio interviews and made TV appearances starting Monday to remind residents of the importance of registering to vote — and updating voting registrations. Colorado is a mail-ballot state and the post office will not forward your ballot. (Go to GoVoteColorado.com to make sure you are current.)

Currently there are 3 million active voters in Colorado, according to figures collected by the Secretary of State through August. September’s numbers are expected to be released next week.

Here’s a look at some of the coverage of voter registration throughout Colorado:

CBS4: Reporter Shaun Boyd melded the days event with a Coloradan registering to vote for the first time at a booth at Civic Center Park and Williams’ interview with Boyd and her colleague, Alan Gionet, for example. She pointed out Colorado has the highest percentage of registered voters in the United States. The story.

Read moreNational Voter Registration Day big success in Colorado

Secretaries of state learn about messaging in the Big Easy

Secretaries of state attending a workshop in New Orelans take a selfie in Jackson Square on Thursday. In the back, second to left, is Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is holding the camera.
Secretaries of state attending a workshop in Louisiana take a selfie in Jackson Square on Thursday. In the back, second to left, is Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is holding the camera. (SOS photo)

Secretaries of state — including Colorado’s Wayne Williams — and communication staffers from 20 different SOS offices are in New Orleans for a two-day “connect & collaborate” conference.

Among the presenters at the event: Twitter and Facebook officials who provided invaluable tips for how secretaries of state can get out their message on voter registration and other issues — and have a little fun.

The workshop was put on by the National Association of Secretaries of State and hosted by Louisiana SOS Tom Schedler and his staff. NASS’ Kay Stimson led the workshop “Negative Publicity & Hostile Reporters.” I chuckled when I read the title. We’ve had some of the first, very little of the latter.

Read moreSecretaries of state learn about messaging in the Big Easy