The two top election staffers in the Colorado Secretary of State’s office praised colleagues Wednesday for their behind-the-scenes work that led to the successful general election on Tuesday.
“We ran a really fantastic election yesterday,” elections director Judd Choate said to those assembled outside his office.
In fact, the bipartisan attorneys who hang out in the Secretary of State’s office on election day handling reports from their folks in the field conceded the day was a bit boring.
That was just fine with Choate and his deputy director, Hilary Rudy.
“We had a great election, a secure election,” Choate said.
“One of the things about working in elections is you get notoriety or publicity when things go badly. That’s when people pay attention to elections. They don’t really think about the people behind the curtain,” he said. “I just want you all to know that we appreciate you and I think all of the citizens of Colorado appreciate all of your work.”
“Elections only work if people trust them,” Williams said.
Kirstjen Nielsen, the director of the Department of Homeland Security, reinforced to secretaries of state and election officials that one of her top priorities has been to enhance the resilience of the nation’s election infrastructure.
“As I see it,” she said, “election security is national security.”
And the day before NASS kicked off its conference, Williams and other members of the Election Infrastructure Subsector Government Coordinating Council met at the same Philadelphia hotel to discuss the security of election systems.
The group oversees how the Department of Homeland Security works with state and local jurisdictions to implement its designation of elections systems as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure.
“At one point there were 27 people around the table — including members of DHS, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and other national groups – four of those 27 were from Colorado,” Williams said. “Colorado’s commitment to election security is so strong.”
The other Coloradans at that meeting were Judd Choate, the elections director for the Colorado Secretary of State, Sarah Ball Johnson, the clerk in Colorado Springs, and Amber McReynolds, Denver’s elections director.
For the second election in a row, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has overseen a risk-limiting audit designed to catch mistakes if they happened when ballots were tabulated.
The audit of the June 26 primary election involved 20, 10-sided dice, a variety of election officials from across the nation and Colorado county clerks excited to proclaim their results on social media.
“WooHoo!! Jeffco Risk-Limiting Audit completed!! 263 (ballots) with NO discrepancies!” the Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder’s office tweeted Saturday.
“The purpose for all this is so the voters can have trust and confidence in the system,” Williams said.
“There are some people who go into denial whenever they don’t win. ‘Everybody I talked to voted for me. How can I possibly not have won?’ This is part of providing that assurance to folks.”
Some counties are still in the midst of their audits, while others completed theirs last week.
If you have been on Facebook in the past month, there’s a good chance the above graphic showed up on your news feed.
Facebook reminded users of the upcoming primary election on June 26 and encouraged users to register to vote or share that they are registered.
The impact was significant —
“More people registered and more people updated their registration on Tuesday, June 12th than did so on Election Day,” said Judd Choate, the state election director for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.
This was the first year unaffiliated voters were allowed to automatically participate. Secretary Williams launched the UChooseCO campaign to inform voters about the new process. Williams handed out wooden U’s for people to decorate and help spread the word. The UChooseCO campaign has a web page, Facebook page, a Twitter account and its own hashtag, #UChooseCO.
This is the second year in a row that the seniors at Kit Carson HS have received this award. Last year, seniors Jaxon Crawford and Bradley Johnson registered not only students at their high school but also at their rival high school, Eads, to win the Eliza Pickrell Routt award for both schools. The two boys worked with Inspire Colorado, a nonprofit dedicated to getting high schoolers registered to vote.
During their efforts last year, the junior class also participated in registering, but since the award is only for seniors, they had to wait. Kit Carson exceeded the 85 percent registration requirement again thanks to Crawford and Johnson, who were also recognized with this year’s award. Every member of the senior class registered to vote this year.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams traveled to the eastern plains to recognize these students and present the awards. Crawford and Johnson were not in attendance because of college finals, and the majority of the senior class was at a Rockies game as part of the senior sendoff.
Cheyenne County Clerk Pat Daugherty congratulated the students on their second award in a row and thanked Williams for making the trip.
Denver South High School
In Denver’s Wash Park neighborhood, the South High Rebels senior class were presented with the Eliza Pickrell Routt award for the first time. Colorado state elections director Judd Choate presented the award.
Two students, Torie Wyman and Sophie Cardin, led the voter registration effort and registered 85 percent of their eligible peers to vote. Inspire Colorado partnered with the school and offered updates and support. Wyman is headed to Colorado State University to study journalism and Cardin, a Boettcher scholar, is going to Colorado College to study philosophy.
“We foster student voice at South and this will help them carry this into their adult lives,” Principal Jen Hanson said. “They are our future and need to know how they can impact change.”
Peak to Peak High School
In Boulder, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert presented the Eliza Pickrell Routt award to Peak to Peak for the second year in a row. 119 of the 140 seniors registered to vote, putting them at 85 percent registration.
Senior Robin Peterson pioneered the effort this year and last year. She had help from Inspire, who trained her on voter registration and leadership in civic engagement and provided her with support and materials for the days that the school did voter registration drives.