Colorado county clerk and recorders say attending conferences with their back-to-back workshops can be taxing, but they are extremely rewarding.
“I have been to every one since being elected” in 2010, Clerk Kathleen Erie from San Miguel County said. “They play a huge role in keeping us all informed on best practices and law changes.”
The Colorado County Clerks Association hosts two statewide conferences annually. Clerks and their staffs also have the opportunity to attend regional training throughout the year sponsored the association and by Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ office.
The clerks finished their winter conference in Fort Collins last week, which was hosted by Larimer County Clerk Angela Myers. The CCCA’s summer conference is in Arapahoe County Aug. 1-3 and will be hosted by Arapahoe Clerk Matt Crane.
“I have only been a clerk for about a year now, so this conference is valuable to network and learn so much from the other clerks,” said Morgan County Clerk Susan Bailey
Other more seasoned county clerks had a similar response to the winter conference.
“I have been a clerk for 34 years now and I still learn so much new information coming to these conferences,” said Clerk Garland Wahl from Washington County. “Every conference is different and I always learn something new.”
Colorado’s hard-working county clerks traded tips on what works — and what might not — during their winter conference this week in Fort Collins.
The Colorado County Clerks Association’s conference offered clerks and their staffs the opportunity to attend a variety of workshops on topics ranging from motor vehicle registrations, the November election and communication best-practices.
“We’re a small county,” said Moffat County Clerk Lila Herod. “We really need to think outside the box and you get ideas to do that at this conference.”
Secretary of State Wayne Williams attended the three-day event.
“Both I and my staff welcomed the opportunity to share best practices and legal requirements with our county partners,” Williams said. “And I enjoyed seeing so many of my friends. If I had to be away from family for my birthday, there’s no finer group to be with.”
Williams turned 53 on Tuesday. Clerks serenaded Williams after Pam Anderson, the executive director of the association, presented the secretary with a cupcake.
Williams talked to the clerks about his decision to go with vendor Dominion Voting Systems, which was the No. 1 choice of a committee studying voting systems. And he announced Wednesday that the state will use federal Help America Vote Act funds to cover 50 percent of a county’s costs to train, test, install and manage the project this year and next.
Gunnison County is one of more than 20 counties that will be switching to Denver-based Dominion this year.
Chief Deputy Clerk Diane Folowell said she spent a “considerable amount of time” meeting with Dominion, one of the many vendors that had a booth set up at the conference.
Gunnison Clerk Kathy Simillion said learning about the equipment was “just part of it.”
“I also enjoy the camaraderie and learning ideas from other clerks,” she said.
For several clerks, it was a chance to meet for the first time the secretary of state staffers they have talk to on the phone on a regular basis.
The conference also saw the changing of the guard, with Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane taking over for La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Parker as president. Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon is the president elect, while Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell was sworn in as vice president.
Former Larimer County Clerk Scott Doyle was named an honorary lifetime clerk. He was introduced by his successor, Clerk Angela Myers.
“I look out upon this room and see lots of hardworking clerks. The work you do is challenging, but it is extremely important and the basis of our free society,” Doyle said.
After the banquet, clerks and their staffs competed in a hilarious lip-sync contest. Weld County Clerk Carly Koppes and staffers took top prize for for their rendition of MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.”
Williams and his staff, along with Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson, performed “Under Pressure.” They got a good laugh when they were introduced as “Lil’ Wayne and the Hanging Chads.”
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams credited an attorney in private practice with a commitment to public service and a government official willing to listen for turning the office into a national model.
Williams said it wasn’t until he was sworn into office in January and then started meeting with secretaries of state across the country that he realized just how much further ahead Colorado is.
He presented awards from the National Association of Secretaries of State to attorney John Moye and former Secretary of State Donetta Davidson in a ceremony that saw former and current elected officials show up to pay tribute. The NASS Medallions are given to those who make a difference.
“John, I couldn’t have shared this day with anybody any better than you,” Davidson said.
Logan County has gone to drive-by voting, with Clerk and Recorder Pam Bacon installing a new ballot drop box that allows voters to pull up and drop off their ballots.
Bacon also got the OK from Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ office to make it a “multi-use box” so that county residents can drop off their motor-vehicle registrations.
Other county clerks also use 24-hour ballot boxes, which under secretary of state rules must be monitored by surveillance cameras with the data being preserved for 25 months. It is illegal to drop off more than 10 ballots at a time, and the outside of the envelopes must be signed by the voter in order to be counted, state elections director Judd Choate said.
According to the Sterling-Journal Advocate, Bacon also reached out to the other county departments, with Treasurer Patty Bartlett believing the box would be useful for receiving tax payments. Bacon said residents can drop off correspondence for any county office, such as a letter to the county commissioners.
“Whatever is in there,'” Bacon told the newspaper, “we’ll make sure it gets to whatever county office it needs to.”
Here’s a look at ballot-box practices in some other counties, per their clerks or election officials: