Secretary Williams visits Jackson, Grand county clerks

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visits with Jackson County Clerk Hayle Johnson and her staff in Walden on Monday. In the foreground is Johnson, who is standing, then Deputy Clerk Margaret Caulk and Deputy Clerk Tammi Gonzales behind the computer screen. (SOS photo)

Monday was the first day that county clerks could mail ballots to in-state voters, which made for interesting visits when Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams stopped in Jackson and Grand counties that day.

The number of active voters in scenic Jackson County is only 983, which is why they hand count their ballots, Clerk Hayle Johnson said.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Grand County Clerk Sara Rosene loaded boxes with ballots into the back of a truck to deliver to the post office. (SOS photo)

The secretary then headed south to equally beautiful Grand County, where Clerk Sara Rosene, her staff and election judges loaded boxes filled with ballots into two large county vehicles in a race to get them to the Post Office.

“As someone who used to be a clerk and recorder, I know the work that goes into getting ballots to the voters,” said Williams, who worked in El Paso County before being elected secretary of state in 2014.

All clerks in Colorado are mailing a record number of ballots for this election because it’s the first time in history unaffiliated voters can automatically participate in the primary elections. In the past, those voters did not receive primary ballots unless they affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic party.

The number of active Republican and unaffiliated voters in Grand is nearly the same, 4,299 to 4,148, respectively, with Democrats trailing at 2,415 voters. But Republicans rule the roost in Jackson, with 677 active GOP voters, while there are 196 unaffiliated voters and 99 Democrats. Both counties have small numbers of third-party voters, who won’t be participating in the primary because they have no contested races.

Read moreSecretary Williams visits Jackson, Grand county clerks

Innovation in bellwether Larimer County

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visited with the Larimer County clerk and board of commissioners during a visit to Fort Collins last week. They are, left to right, Commissioners Tom Donnelly and Lew Gaiter, Williams, Clerk and Recorder Angela Myers and Commissioner Steve Johnson. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visited with the Larimer County clerk and board of commissioners during a visit to Fort Collins last week. They are, left to right, Commissioners Tom Donnelly and Lew Gaiter, Secretary Williams, Clerk and Recorder Angela Myers and Commissioner Steve Johnson. (SOS photo)

When Wayne Williams was elected El Paso County clerk and recorder in 2010, he visited the clerks in Larimer and Weld counties before he took office.

At the time, Williams was a county commissioner and had heard from the Larimer and Weld commissioners and their residents “about the quality of their clerks and the operations they ran,” he said.

Williams, now the secretary of state, returned to the Larimer County clerk’s office in Fort Collins last week as part of his goal to meet with clerks statewide to see what issues they face and how his office can help.

“We spoke about the quality of support from the secretary of state and his office,” Larimer County Clerk Angela Myers said. “It definitely feels like a partnership, and that is for the good of the entire state.”

Read moreInnovation in bellwether Larimer County

Hand counting, grave digging and moose watching in Walden

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Jackson County clerk and assessor staffers Wednesday in Walden. From left to right: Clerk Hayle Johnson, Deputy Tammi Gonzales, Assessor Kerry Moran, Deputy Clerk Margaret Caul and Deputy Assessor Wendy Larsen. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Jackson County clerk and assessor staffers Wednesday in Walden. From left to right: Clerk Hayle Johnson, Deputy Tammi Gonzales, Assessor Kerry Moran, Deputy Clerk Margaret Caul and Deputy Assessor Wendy Larsen. (SOS photo)

All Colorado county clerks issue marriage licenses, but Jackson County’s clerk goes one step further.

“We do the marrying and the burying,” Clerk Hayle Johnson said.

The county owns the cemetery in Jackson County so the clerk’s office helps with funerals, arranging with the road-and-bridge department to have the grave dug and then closed up.

The clerk also keeps the cemetery deeds, so plots are purchased at the office.

In addition, the three-member clerk’s office also handles elections, payroll, document recordings, liquor licenses, motor vehicle registrations and takes the minutes of the commissioners’ meeting.

That’s why arranging for road department to bring heaters to get the ground to thaw for a funeral might take  priority over meeting an election deadline, Johnson told  Secretary of State Wayne Williams on his visit to Walden Wednesday. But she added she couldn’t do the job without the help of the elections staff, particularly Josh Johnson.

Read moreHand counting, grave digging and moose watching in Walden