Secretary Wayne Williams tells JBC why he spent grant funds

Secretary of State Wayne Williams addresses the Joint Budget Committee Tuesday afternoon. With him to his left is Chief of Staff Gary Zimmerman and Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert. To his right is the SOS's budget guru, Brad Lang.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams addresses the Joint Budget Committee Tuesday afternoon. With him to his left is Chief of Staff Gary Zimmerman and Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert. To his right is the SOS’s budget guru, Brad Lang.

In Boulder County, 158 ballots arrived in the mail the day after the Nov. 8 election. In Larimer County, only one arrived on Nov. 9, but there were 64 ballots the next day.

El Paso County reports that by Nov. 16, it has received 268 ballots that arrived after Election Day, while Douglas County by Nov. 14th had received 213 ballots.

Under Colorado law, a ballot must be in the possession of a county clerk by 7 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted. A District Court judge ruled in 2014 that even if ballots are postmarked before the election, they are invalid if they arrive after 7 p.m.

That’s why Secretary of Wayne Williams has been using federal Help America Vote Act funds to assist clerks in paying for 24-hour ballot drop boxes, which are regularly emptied by election workers. Williams was asked to explain his stance regarding the funds when he appeared before the Joint Budget Committee Tuesday afternoon.

“My philosophy is they ought to be used to try to get key parts of the Secretary of State’s mission done. One of the key factors is ensuring that every Coloradan is able to securely cast his or her ballot,” he said.

“My theory is the funds ought be used to help Colorado vote instead of being used to help the Secretary of State have a bank account. So yes, there was a more aggressive use of those grant funds over the past year.”

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Secretary Williams says SOS will help clerks pay for 24-hour ballot boxes

Secretary of State Wayne Williams announces the state will help pay for 24-hour election drop boxes. Williams attended the Colorado County Clerks Association this week. (Julia Sunny)
Secretary of State Wayne Williams announces the state will help pay for 24-hour election drop boxes. Williams attended the Colorado County Clerks Association this week. (Julia Sunny)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams told county clerks this week that the state will help pay for ballot drop boxes to make it easier for their residents to vote.

The boxes allow voters to drop off their ballots 24 hours a day, including after hours and at locations other than just the clerks’ offices. Elbert County, for example, has a box inside the local Walmart.

“We really don’t want to be in a situation where somebody doesn’t get their vote counted because they didn’t have access to a ballot drop box and they weren’t able to drop by the time period that you’re open during business hours,” Williams said.

He also advised  election officials attending the Colorado County Clerks Association summer conference this week in the metro area to be ready for a deluge of last-minute voters Nov. 8. Williams pointed to presidential primaries in Maricopa County, Arizona, and New Hampshire, where the volume of voters overwhelmed election officials.

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Secretary Wayne Williams to honor election-training veterans

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Archuelta County Clerk June Madrid.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Archuelta County Clerk June Madrid during a visit in March. Madrid is one of 48 clerks and election staffers who began election training a decade ago and will be recognized next week.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office this year celebrated its 10th anniversary of training election officials to ensure uniformity in administering elections and interpreting laws and rules.

To commemorate the occasion, the 48 people who completed their certification that year and still maintain their status and work in elections will be recognized next week at the Colorado County Clerks Association summer meeting. Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams will present 10-year pins to the recipients.

The Colorado Election Official Certification program began shortly after the passage of the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA. Then-Secretary of State Donetta Davidson recognized the need for better training and education of Colorado election officials.

“Our program keeps getting better,” SOS Deputy Elections Director Hilary Rudy said. “We’ve really upped the bar to make it a good, effective, professional program. And that’s largely from the feedback we’ve received over the years from the clerks and their staffs who attend the training.”

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