Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an election petition bill into law designed to prevent some of the problems that plagued last year’s election and thrust a dog named Duke into the limelight.
Under House Bill 1088, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office will conduct signature verification on candidate petitions — previously only the address was checked. It also allows petition circulators to cure administrative deficiencies in their circulator affidavits.
In what is believed to be a legislative first, the measure signed into law was sponsored by a father-son duo. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, introduced House Bill 1088 with his father, Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton. The bill was first heard in committee in March.
An effort to modernize the state’s open records law died in one legislative session, spent months being studied by a working group at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, appeared destined to die again this legislative session but was reborn and finally signed into law today.
Gov. John Hickenlooper referred to its tumultuous journey.
“This is one of the bills that was hotly debated throughout the session, and really did require some gentle caressing and firm molding,” Hickenlooper said. “But when you see some very conservative components of our community and some very liberal components of our community coming together, generally you know that there’s good things close at hand.”
In urging the passage of Senate Bill 40 during committee hearings, Secretary of State Wayne Williams quoted “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” which lawmakers said likely was a legislative first.
The law now requires public records that are kept digitally to be released to requestors in that format.
The governors: Dick Lamm, who was first elected in 1974, Roy Romer, Bill Owens, Bill Ritter and the current occupant, John Hickenlooper, who is term limited after next year.
As a reporter, I covered Owens, Ritter and Hickenlooper. I never covered Lamm or Romer but I interviewed them countless times over the years.
And while at the Rocky Mountain News, I was assigned to write Lamm’s and Romer’s obituaries and have them ready to go, you know, just in case. Yes, awkward, but Lamm was very gracious when I explained why I was interviewing him. My lede: “Dick Lamm did his duty today.”
Lamm and Romer outlived the Rocky, which died in 2009.
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.”
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams often tells the story of how the high school he attended once shut done rather than integrate, and during a technology conference in Arkansas this week he got to see where the public showdown first began.
At the conference, Williams also got to ride in a self-driving vehicle and heard from the “Elliot Ness of cyber crime.”
As for the school, a 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling ordering the integration of public schools was met with hostility. In Little Rock, nine black students were denied entrance to all-white Central High School, forcing a very public conflict between President Eisenhower and the Arkansas governor.
At Warren High School in Virginia, where Williams graduated in 1981, the school board decided to close the school rather than allow blacks to attend, which is why there was no graduating Class of 1959.
Williams said the area was still mired in backward thinking when he first attended school, which created an economic decline in the town, which is why he first got involved in politics.
“When I was 17 years old I gathered a group of friends together and we passed out literature to everyone walking into a polling place,” Williams often tells young leaders. “And through that we were able to change the power in my area from one party to my party. So I understand the importance of youth involvement.”