Colorado county clerks hope lawmakers fix early-voting rules

Members of the Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission watch the clip from VICE News about the Secretary of State’s ” war-games, election style,” exercise in September. Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane, second from left, was prominently featured in the show. (SOS Photo)

County clerks say a state law that dictates how many early-voting election facilities they must operate should be changed to allow local governments to make that decision.

They made their appeal Wednesday during the Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission meeting, the last one under outgoing Secretary of State Wayne Williams. He assembled the group in 2016 to provide feedback on elections.

The clerks have argued through several elections that the number of voters who visit the Voter Service and Polling Centers, or VSPCs, particularly in the first week they are open, doesn’t make sense because of the low turnout. Clerks would like to devote the resources  where they need them.

Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon noted that her in-person voting center is the courthouse in Sterling, but she is required to open two additional facilities in the county on Election Day.

“I had 20 people at one location and six at the other,” she said. “Those two extra locations short me where I need hands the most, which is at the county office.”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Michael Valdez with the Special District Association, who serves on the Bipartisan Election Advisory Committee. Behind them is Melissa Polk, an attorney in the SOS’ elections division. (SOS photo)

Williams also discussed Colorado’s record turnout in the mid-term election — second in the nation behind Minnesota — and his office’s nationally lauded efforts on election security.

“Our clerks did a phenomenal job. Our staff did a phenomenal job as well,” Williams said. “I want to say thank you to all of them for that.”

Douglas County Clerk Merlin Klotz returned the compliment.

“Where Colorado stands as far as the most secure place to vote speaks for the entire team and the job you’ve done,” he told Williams.

Read moreColorado county clerks hope lawmakers fix early-voting rules

Recording board says farewell to Adams, Arapahoe clerks

The Electronic Recording Technology Board at its meeting Tuesday at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. It is the last meeting for chairman Matt Crane, right, the outgoing Arapahoe County clerk. From left to right, board treasurer Gary Zimmerman, the SOS’ chief of staff; member Susan Corliss, the Kit Carson County clerk and recorder;  Charles Calvin with the Colorado Bar Association, Michelle Batey, the executive director of the ERTB; and Crane. (SOS photo)

The name is clunky — the Electronic Recording Technology Board. But its importance is hard to overstate — the board hands out grants to county clerks to update equipment that records property records, marriage licenses, mineral rights and more.

At Tuesday’s meeting at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, the board paid tribute to two outgoing members, Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane and Adams County Clerk Stan Martin.

Crane has served as the chairman since the enterprise operation was created through legislation in 2016.  The measure also authorized clerks to charge a $2-a-document fee for five years to create a pool of money to help counties cover the cost of upgrades and purchases.

“It’s been fun to get this off the ground, considering where we were,” Crane said.

Read moreRecording board says farewell to Adams, Arapahoe clerks

Our county clerks: “Because I knew you I have been changed for good.”

Four of Colorado’s departing county clerks share a laugh at a clerks party Saturday night in the metro area. They are, from left to right, San Miguel County Clerk Kathleen Erie, Moffat County Clerk Lila Herod, Otero County Clerk Sharon Sisnroy, and Broomfield’s Jim Candelarie. (SOS photo)

They laughed.

“I love my husband — we’ll be married 60 years next year. But I don’t know if I want to be home with him all the time,” said Faye Griffin, the outgoing clerk in Jefferson County.

They envied.

“I’ll miss you all when I’m sitting on a beach next November,” said Hillary Hall, Boulder County’s term-limited clerk and recorder.

Longtime Jefferson County elected official Clerk Faye Griffin and her husband Walter at a party Saturday for departing clerks. (SOS photo)

They cried.

“Colorado is the leader in elections. I’m so proud of that,” said Bent County’s longtime clerk, Patti Nickell.

Most of the state’s departing county clerks gathered Saturday night at the Melting Pot in Louisville, where they were feted by the Colorado County Clerks Association. Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell, president of the CCCA, read a letter to her outgoing colleagues.

“Your commitment and sacrifice to your office, staff and citizens of your county is what public service is all about. The county clerk is the hub of the community for connection to their government, and with that came challenges, wonderful memories and a front seat for history,” she said.

“Please remember you will always be a part of us — that our shared experiences and mutual understanding will never dissipate.”

Read moreOur county clerks: “Because I knew you I have been changed for good.”

Safe and secure: Eagle County thrilled with recording grant

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and three county clerk and recorders, Regina O’Brien of Eagle County, Kim Bonner of Routt County and Matt Crane of Arapahoe County, in front of files at the Eagle County clerk’s office. (SOS photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams traveled to the mountains on Monday and the eastern plains last Friday to tout grants county clerks are receiving to help them update and maintain equipment used to record important documents, from land transactions to mineral rights to marriage licenses.

Williams congratulated Eagle County Clerk Regina O’Brien and her staff, who were awarded $23,000 to purchase additional software modules intended to enhance electronic record storage.

“We all know how important it is to electronically preserve document images,” O’Brien said. “We are very, very excited for this addition.”

The money is part of $900,000 that the Electronic Recording Technology Board, created by legislation passed in 2016, has awarded in recent weeks.

“We know there’s a lot of technology in the state that’s outdated,” Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane, board chairman, said during a news conference in Eagle. “This gives all counties a chance at having better technology and to be able to push more things to the web to allow citizens to access documents and electronically file.”

Read moreSafe and secure: Eagle County thrilled with recording grant

County clerks celebrate recording grants

Four county clerk and recorders — Cheyenne’s Pat Daugherty, Adams’ Stan Martin, Lincoln’s Corinne Lengel and Kit Carson’s Susan Corliss — stand with Secretary of State Wayne Williams in Hugo on Friday. They talked about the Electronic Recording and Technology Board and how it is benefiting rural and smaller counties and the customers they serve. (SOS photo)

Four county clerk and recorders praised Secretary of State Wayne Williams and the Colorado Legislature for working on a solution to help rural counties replace obsolete equipment vital to recording important documents, including land transactions.

Williams said the second portion of their title, recorder,  is often overlooked but keenly important.

“For most Coloradans, their biggest investment is the home, the ranch, that we own,” he said. “So making sure those property records are accurate is absolutely critical.”

He met with clerks Stan Martin of Adams County, Pat Daugherty of Cheyenne County, Susan Corliss of Kit Carson County and Corinne Lengel of Lincoln County in Lengel’s office in Hugo on Friday. They discussed the Electronic Recording Technology Board, an enterprise account created by the legislature in 2016.

The board announced Thursday  that 15 rural counties will be the first recipients of grants it will be doling out.

Daugherty couldn’t be happier. “We don’t have any extra money,” she said.

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