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.

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Bring on the “Hot Sauce” for another year of state league co-ed softball

It’s been another great year for the Colorado Secretary of State’s co-ed softball team, Hot S.O.S. Front row, left to right: player and manager Hilary Rudy, Tiffany Long and Terri Long. Middle row: Nick Severn with the Department of Personnel and Administration, Kim Taylor, Brad Lang, Caleb Thornton and Kelsey Klaus, with her son AJ in the carrier. Back row: Robb Madison, Kyle Dostart, Kris Reynolds and Alex Klaus, husband of Kelsey. (Photo by Meg Lang)

By Lizzie Stephani

The Colorado Secretary of State’s co-ed softball team didn’t win any league trophies this year, but took home something more important: a reputation for being nice and fun.

The team is named Hot S.O.S., which is pronounced “Hot Sauce.” Its goal is to have a good time, said Coach Hilary Rudy, the deputy elections director.

Hot S.O.S. participates in the state’s co-ed softball league, which has been around since the 1960s.

The 14 teams are comprised of employees across various state agencies, such as the Department of Education and the  Department of Natural Resources. In line with the league’s laid-back nature, each team came up with its own creative name. The Legislative Council’s team is Capitol Offense while History of Colorado is Relics.

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Secretary Williams talks to clerks about voter fraud

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Wednesday address county clerks on the state’s eastern edge, who were meeting in Sterling for training. (SOS photo)

Check out staffer Julia Sunny’s video on the visit with county clerks from the eastern regional. As Kiowa County Clerk Delisa Weeks says, “We’re small, but we’re fun.” YouTube video.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams addressed the issue of voter fraud when he spoke to county clerks on the Eastern Plains Wednesday, warning them that in the coming months his office could be asking about certain constituents suspected of voting twice in the 2016 election.

“Some of you are aware there were accusations that there was rampant fraud in the elections. Some said there was no fraud,” Williams said. “The answer is somewhere in between.”

Colorado is part of a national months-long check of voter histories that flags the names of voters who appeared to have voted more than once.

“I anticipate there will be some people in Colorado who voted in multiple states. There are not tens of thousands of them. It did not change the result of the election,” Williams said.

“But there are elections that decided by a single vote. I presided over those elections as a county clerk. So we care about that issue. The message from us isn’t that vote fraud never occurs, but we make it difficult to occur and we help prosecute people when we find out about it.”

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Colorado’s 64 county clerks, “out there on the front lines”

Colorado Secretary Wayne Williams, third from left in the back row, and county clerks who attended a regional meeting this week in Cañon City. (SOS photo)

By Lynn Bartels and Julia Sunny

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams told county clerks at a regional gathering this week that his office is reviewing how to implement voter-approved ballot measures, including one that changes signature gathering for ballot proposals.

Amendment 71 requires that any new constitutional amendment pass with 55 percent of the vote instead of a simple majority. In addition, a percentage of the signatures to put the measure on the ballot must be gathered in all 35 Senate districts, which will change how the state reviews petitions to determine whether backers collected enough valid voter signatures.

Williams addressed a variety of topics, from early-voting requirements to ballot drop boxes, when he spoke Wednesday to clerks from the state’s southern region at their conference in Cañon City.

“Our job is to help you and to help the voters,” Williams told the clerks. “You’re the ones out there on the front lines.”

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Plain or à la mode, it’s another fun day at the Secretary of State’s office


The Colorado Secretary of State’s video on pie/pi.

Cherry. Apple. Pumpkin. Pecan. Banana cream. Secretary of State employees rattled off names of their favorite pies on Tuesday, national Pi Day, held on March 14 because the date 3-14 contains the first three first digits in Pi.

Julia Sunny, the social medial coordinator for the Colorado Secretary of State. (SOS photo)

Of course, Secretary of State Wayne Williams could rattle off the Pi forumula with ease — he was a Truman Scholar after all. But others struggled, as documented in the first video by the office’s new social media coordinator, Julia Sunny.

After his 15 minutes of fame, Williams dined on apple pie and cheesecake, provided by the office’s Employee Relations Committee.

“Our Employee Relations Committee does a great job of putting together activities to help make this a good place to work,” Williams said.

“They’re providing pie for all the employees today so I look forward to visiting with my colleagues and enjoying some good-tasting pie.”

Deputy Elections Director Hilary Rudy and Chief of Staff Gary Zimmerman both liked their grandmothers’ pies. Ben Schler, the legal and internal operations manager for the elections division, likes his crust made with lots of butter. Schler and HR technician Wyatt Ryder prefer cheesecake over pie.

If you like pecan pie, you might want to skip my reference to it.