Governor signs two bills backed by Secretary of State Williams

Gov. John Hickenlooper signs into law two-elections related measures as Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, to the governor’s right, SOS staffers, lobbyists, lawmakers and election activists look on. (SOS photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Deputy Secretary Suzanne Staiert looked on this week as Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law two bills  that will help to make Colorado’s elections even more accurate, accessible and transparent.

One measure involved updating and changing current election law, while the other concerns voter registration and the criminal justice system.

Williams often reminds Coloradans that when he took office in 2015 he was told that because the Senate was controlled by Republicans and the House by Democrats he would have a hard time getting anything through the split legislature. Instead, a majority of the legislation his office has worked on or testified on behalf of has passed.

“I think we continue to dispel the myth,” the secretary said, “that election issues have to be partisan and, yes, you can get things done.”

Here’s a look at the two bills signed Tuesday:

Read moreGovernor signs two bills backed by Secretary of State Williams

Bill aimed at 2018 election woes signed into law

Three generations of Nevilles pose with Gov Hickenlooper as he signs an elections measure into law. Also pictured, at right, is Tim Greismer, legislative liaison for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, and the deputy secretary of state, Suzanne Staiert. (SOS photo)

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an election petition bill into law designed to prevent some of the problems that plagued last year’s election and thrust a dog named Duke into the limelight.

Under House Bill 1088, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office will conduct signature verification on candidate petitions — previously only the address was checked. It also allows petition circulators to cure administrative deficiencies in their circulator affidavits.

In what is believed to be a legislative first, the measure signed into law was sponsored by a father-son duo. House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, introduced House Bill 1088 with his father, Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton. The bill was first heard in committee in March.

Read moreBill aimed at 2018 election woes signed into law

House committee unanimously passes Colorado election petition bill

Last-minute negotiations on an elections bill took place last week right before it was heard by the House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee. Left to right, Tim Griesmer, legislative liaison for the Secretary of State’s office; Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Adams County; Martha Tierney, attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party; and Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

Colorado’s election drama last year over forged petition signatures and the failures of some petition candidates to initially make the ballot is being addressed by the Colorado legislature.

A House committee voted 9-0 in favor of a bill by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, that allows the Secretary of State’s office to conduct signature verification on candidate petitions, similar to what is done with mail ballots, and provides a signature cure process. It also allows petition circulators to cure administrative deficiencies in their circulator affidavits.

Members from organizations such as America Votes and Common Cause, along with Secretary of State Wayne Williams last Thursday testified in favor of HB17-1088.

“Allowing us to work with a candidate to fix (problems) improves the process and increases the integrity of the election,” Williams told the House State Affairs, Veterans & Military Committee.

Read moreHouse committee unanimously passes Colorado election petition bill

And another era begins at the Colorado General Assembly

Four of the new House Democrats elected on Tuesday gather at the state Capitol Thursday for a caucus meeting and leadership election. From left to right: Matt Gray of Broomfield, Don Sanchez of xxx and Chris Kennedy of Lakewood. (SOS photo)
Four of the new House Democrats elected on Tuesday gather at the state Capitol Thursday for a caucus meeting and leadership election. From left to right: Matt Gray of Broomfield, Donald Valdez of La Jara, Edie Hooten of Boulder and Chris Kennedy of Lakewood. (SOS photo)

For the second election in a row, an Adams County Republican has given the party control of the state Senate.

There were plenty of handshakes and hugs Thursday at the state Capitol when Kevin Priola of Henderson showed up. Priola, a state representative, defeated Democrat Jenise May, a former state representative, 52 percent to 47 percent in unofficial returns.

Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik of Thornton and Sen.-elect Kevin Priola of Henderson. The two Adams County Republicans helped their party take the majority in the state Senate. (SOS photo)
Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik of Thornton and Sen.-elect Kevin Priola of Henderson. The two Adams County Republicans helped their party take the majority in the state Senate. (SOS photo)

This is always a fascinating time under the Gold Dome. Two days after the general election, returning members and the freshly elected show up to pick caucus leaders, schmooze, celebrate and console.

It’s a disappointing day for the losing side. House Republicans saw three incumbents defeated, and Democrats next year will have a 37-28 majority. Senate Democrats are again in the minority and again by one seat, 18-17.

House Republicans chose one of the more conservative members of the caucus, Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, as minority leader. It’s not a term Neville embraces.

“I’m the Republican leader,”  he said.

Read moreAnd another era begins at the Colorado General Assembly

New election commission to study possible fixes to Colorado laws, constitution

Martha Tierney, attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party, and Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, serve on a new Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission formed by Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)
Martha Tierney, attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party, and Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, serve on a new Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission formed by Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

Two proposed ballot measures dealing with primary elections and a presidential primary will drive up costs for counties to run elections.

Language concerning recall elections added to Colorado’s constitution in 1913 conflicts with current federal and state law.

And what about signature verification for candidate and initiative petitions?

Those topics were discussed Friday during the inaugural meeting of the Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission created by Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with support from legislators and others concerned with elections.

“We had a great first meeting, discussing ways we can make the election process better in Colorado, and I appreciate the time and input from the state’s leaders who joined us,” Williams said.

He sought input from Gov. John Hickenlooper, legislative leaders from both parties and others about who should serve on the commission. The goal is to come up with solutions to fix election problems identified by Williams, his staff and others.

Read moreNew election commission to study possible fixes to Colorado laws, constitution