Harvard’s “D3P” group checks out Colorado’s elections

A Harvard group exploring elections and security issues toured the Colorado Secretary of State’s office and Denver Elections on Friday. Defending Digital Democracy, an initiative of the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center project, aims to deliver a publicly available resource that provides solutions and best practices to help close or mitigate digital security gaps.

Members of a much-ballyhooed project from Harvard’s Belfer Center that is aimed at helping election administrators and others protect democratic processes from cyber and information attacks were in Denver Friday to soak up Colorado’s elections process.

Election officials from as far away as La Plata and Mesa counties participated.

“The visit was phenomenal for all of us,” said Jen Nam, an Army reservist with  expertise in intelligence. “It was an eye-opening experience for how advanced and complex the elections process can be.”

Nam’s a student at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, which in July launched the “Defending Digital Democracy” Project. The initiative received plenty of attention because it is co-led led by the former campaign managers for Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, Robby Mook and Matt Rhoades respectively, along with experts from the national security and technology communities.

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Inspired by Inspire Colorado

DSST Cole High School students pose with their Inspire Colorado gear Tuesday for National Voter Registration Day.

Engaging Colorado youth in the elections process is the core focus of Inspire Colorado, and the Colorado Secretary of State’s office is proud to partner with the group.

As part of National Voter Registration Day Tuesday, Colorado elections director Judd Choate spoke to students at an Inspire Colorado event at DSST Cole High School. He talked about the importance of registering to vote, ballot issues, preregistration and mail ballots.

“Inspire Colorado is much more about being involved than it is about winners and losers,” said Choate.

Two Cole students made a schoolwide effort in getting their peers registered by working with Inspire and the Secretary of State’s office. In an effort to boost their school’s percentage of registered voters, voter registration forms and NVRD stickers were handed out Tuesday.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams has encouraged young Coloradans to vote by presenting the Eliza Pickrell Routt award to high schools that have 85 percent or more of the seniors preregistered or registered to vote.

Colorado’s mail ballot elections ignite interest in Alaskan officials

Claire Richardson, the Alaskan lieutenant governor’s chief of staff, flanked by Alaskan elections staffers, during a visit Thursday to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. (SOS photo)

Colorado is one of the top five states in the country for voter turnout, due in part to its mail-ballot system for elections.

Secretary of State Williams encourages election officials from other states to visit and see how elections in Colorado are run. Alaskan officials did just that Thursday.

Alaskan election officials, including four people from the secretary of state’s office, one state senator, and two interest group representatives visited Denver Elections and then the Secretary of State’s office.

Alaska State Sen. Gary Stevens of Kodiak holds us the plate of salmon he declined to eat while at a Denver restaurant Thursday. He jokingly suggested it was farm-raised and not worthy of an Alaska resident.

During lunch at Maggiano’s, the Alaskan delegation mentioned that they were envious that the Colorado Secretary of State’s election division is housed in one location, and not spread across the state. They run across many challenges running an election in such a large state where the Capitol, Juneau, is accessible only by plane or ferry.

Secretary Williams, Colorado elections director Judd Choate, and county support manager Dwight Shellman, sat down with the Alaskan officials to discuss Colorado elections’ processes and what Colorado does to maintain the integrity of elections.

Shellman explained the innovative risk-limiting audits system Colorado will utilize in the next election. Colorado is the first state to implement statewide RLAs to elections, a new and better type of post-election audit.

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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 state elections director rises to NASED president

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and his elections director, Judd Choate, in Washington, D.C. (SOS photo)

Colorado’s state elections director, Judd Choate, was sworn in Thursday night as president of the National Association of State Election Directors.

When administering the oath, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talked about Choate’s unrelenting commitment to his beloved University of Kansas basketball team. Williams assured onlookers that Choate would apply that same passion toward his leadership of the organization and its goal for elections excellence.

Among those in the crowd: Matt Masterson, one of three commissioners with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

“Thanks to the leadership of Secretary Williams and Judd Choate,  Colorado is a national leader in elections,” Masterson said. “As president of the State Election Directors, Judd will have a platform to lead and share the great work done in Colorado.”

The organization, referred to as Nass-ed, holds its winter conference in Washington, D.C., at the same time the National Association of Secretaries of State meets.

“Election directors can adopt policies to increase voter turnout,” Choate said. “I hope to use my year as president to encourage the adoption of these policies.”