Secretary Williams talks dollars and sense to JBC

Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks with lawmakers and members of the Joint Budget Committee Tuesday before a hearing on the department’s budget. Left to right: Rep. Dan Thurlow, R-Grand Junction; Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley; Secretary Williams; Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud; and JBC Chairwoman Millie Hamner, D-Dillon. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams highlighted the office’s achievements and challenges when he presented his budget requests to the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday.

“We work very hard to make sure we provide the services that Colorado expects and deserves and our paying for with their fees,” he said. “I’m proud that we are able to do that with business fees that are among the lowest in the nation.

Secretary Wayne Williams, the SOS’ budget director, Brad Lang, and Rep. Susan Beckman, R-Littleton, at Tuesday’s Joint Budget Committee hearing. (SOS photo)

“As the state grows, as our processes change, we need to keep pace with that. We need not to be caught napping and waiting and our budget anticipates that.”

He noted the office is working on an information campaign to educate voters about Colorado’s first open primary next June, when unaffiliated voters will receive a ballot and must decide whether to vote the Democratic or Republican ticket.

Voters last year approved that measure with the passage of Proposition 108 and Williams has been on a speaking tour, explaining it to Colorado voters. He will address the League of Women Voters in Durango on Saturday.

He told the JBC that Colorado has just completed the first ever in the nation risk limiting audit, which is an audit of the state’s elections based on mathematical algorithms.

“That provides us with a statistically significant probability that the state’s elections systems correctly tabulated Coloradans ballots,” Williams said.

Read more

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.”

Read more