Colorado’s county clerks are bracing for major changes this year, from mailing primary ballots to unaffiliated voters for the first time ever to revamping the Motor Vehicle operations their offices handle.
To prepare for 2018, the Colorado County Clerks Association at its winter conference in Colorado Springs last week offered workshops dealing with duties that most clerks handle, including recording documents, issuing license plates and running elections.
The association also installed new officers for the coming year. Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell succeeded Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon as the group president.
“We need to thank the Secretary of State staff for working so hard with us this year and for the last several years,” Bacon said. “We have a pretty great working relationship with them and it takes all of us to make changes that work.”
Williams reviewed a list of achievements, including the completion of the first statewide risk-limiting audit designed to catch election errors. He also updated clerks on the installation of ballot boxes to make it easier for voters to drop off their ballots 24-7, and the implementation of Dominion Voting Systems equipment that clerks say has made elections easier to run.
“We are the talk of the nation, as usual,” Williams said. “We are rock stars.”
Check out the video from Secretary Williams’ day on the eastern plains here.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams shared his high school experience when honoring two Colorado high schools on Wednesday for its effort in registering juniors and seniors to vote.
Students at Eads and Kit Carson high schools were winners of the Eliza Pickrell Routt Award for Outstanding Voter Registration Efforts from the Secretary of State’s office.
Williams told a story he often tells to groups of young people. His high school in Virginia didn’t have a graduating class in 1959 because the town leaders closed the school rather than follow orders to integrate it.
Twenty years later when Williams attended Warren County High School, the leadership hadn’t improved much.
“I moved there and didn’t like the way the leadership was going so I got involved and I was 16 years old. I got all my friends from the high school and we stood outside all the polling places and we completely changed the leadership for that county for the first time in 100 years,” he said.
“So you can have an impact, even without having the ability to vote.”
Kit Carson seniors Jaxon Crawford and Bradley Johnson worked with the group Inspire Colorado to register 100 percent of the senior class at Kit Carson High.
Not only did Jaxon and Bradley make the effort at their school, but they went to their rival high school, Eads, to get the juniors and seniors there to register.
“I think that all of us adults can learn a little bit about that bipartisan spirit, that we can engage with the people we compete with,” Ryan Drysdale, Inspire Colorado’s program coordinator said.
The award is named after Eliza Pickrell Routt, wife of Gov. John Long Routt after whom Routt County is named. She was the first woman to register to vote in Colorado.
Ouray High School in Ouray and Peak to Peak High School in Lafayette will receive the same honors later this month. Last year, Yuma High School and Eaglecrest High School were the recipients of this award.
To win, 85 percent or more of eligible students must be registered to vote.
Williams also praised the county clerks that serve those two high schools, saying, “Their purpose really is to try to make it easy for you to participate in the process and that’s what we try to do, but we need you to step up and make those decisions.”
Pat Daugherty, Cheyenne county clerk and recorder, spoke briefly to Kit Carson students about her office and how grateful she is for the help she receives from various students and teachers on field trips.
“It’s as hard as showing up and letting somebody know you want to get involved,” she joked. “We gladly accept youth judges in the elections.”
Williams left the seniors with praise for their accomplishments and advice as they set off to their next chapter.
“Take that effort you’ve made and keep going with it as you head off into the world.”