The Facebook Effect in Colorado

The graphic Facebook showed on users’ news feeds. (SOS photo)

If you have been on Facebook in the past month, there’s a good chance the above graphic showed up on your news feed.

Facebook reminded users of the upcoming primary election on June 26 and encouraged users to register to vote or share that they are registered.

The impact was significant —

“More people registered and more people updated their registration on Tuesday, June 12th than did so on Election Day,” said Judd Choate, the state election director for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

This was the first year unaffiliated voters were allowed to automatically participate. Secretary Williams launched the UChooseCO campaign to inform voters about the new process. Williams handed out wooden U’s for people to decorate and help spread the word. The UChooseCO campaign has a web pageFacebook page, a Twitter account and its own hashtag, #UChooseCO.

Secretary Williams visits Jackson, Grand county clerks

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visits with Jackson County Clerk Hayle Johnson and her staff in Walden on Monday. In the foreground is Johnson, who is standing, then Deputy Clerk Margaret Caulk and Deputy Clerk Tammi Gonzales behind the computer screen. (SOS photo)

Monday was the first day that county clerks could mail ballots to in-state voters, which made for interesting visits when Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams stopped in Jackson and Grand counties that day.

The number of active voters in scenic Jackson County is only 983, which is why they hand count their ballots, Clerk Hayle Johnson said.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Grand County Clerk Sara Rosene loaded boxes with ballots into the back of a truck to deliver to the post office. (SOS photo)

The secretary then headed south to equally beautiful Grand County, where Clerk Sara Rosene, her staff and election judges loaded boxes filled with ballots into two large county vehicles in a race to get them to the Post Office.

“As someone who used to be a clerk and recorder, I know the work that goes into getting ballots to the voters,” said Williams, who worked in El Paso County before being elected secretary of state in 2014.

All clerks in Colorado are mailing a record number of ballots for this election because it’s the first time in history unaffiliated voters can automatically participate in the primary elections. In the past, those voters did not receive primary ballots unless they affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic party.

The number of active Republican and unaffiliated voters in Grand is nearly the same, 4,299 to 4,148, respectively, with Democrats trailing at 2,415 voters. But Republicans rule the roost in Jackson, with 677 active GOP voters, while there are 196 unaffiliated voters and 99 Democrats. Both counties have small numbers of third-party voters, who won’t be participating in the primary because they have no contested races.

Read moreSecretary Williams visits Jackson, Grand county clerks

Secretary Williams heads south to Rio Grande County

Rio Grande County Clerk & Recorder Cindy Hill and Secretary of State Wayne Williams at Hill’s office in Del Norte last week. (SOS photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams paid a visit to Del Norte,  the county seat of Rio Grande County, to meet with Clerk Cindy Hill last week.

She and Williams spoke about the launch of two statewide voter registration campaigns, UChooseCO and Yo Decido. Hill says that she is very excited about the launch of these campaigns because it will help the public be informed.

“I always say that you have a right to be informed but, it is your responsibility to be informed,” Hill said.

Rio Grande County boasts 6,748 active voters.

She said a number of questions have come up about the election but are the usual inquiries that come up at every election, such as, “How can you open the ballots we send in without knowing who it came from?” Now they’re asking,  “How are the new primaries going to work?” The  UChooseCO campaign is designed to educate unaffiliated voters that while they can participate in the primary, if they get both the Republican and Democratic ballot mailed to them they can only vote.

There are eight employees who work in the clerk and recorder’s office and they handle everything from elections to recording to motor vehicle registrations. Hill has worked in the office for 16 years and has been clerk since 2011. She is running for re-election this November.

“We always enjoy Secretary Williams coming to see us,” Hill said. “It was nice to have him in.”

Secretary Williams explains campaign to educate unaffiliated voters

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams today talks with the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Public Affairs Council about his office’s effort to educate unaffiliated voters about the June primary.  (SOS photo)

For the second time this month, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams talked to the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce about this year’s primary election, where unaffiliated voters for the first time in history will be able to vote in primary elections without formally affiliating with a major political party.

The office is developing a mostly digital campaign to let unaffiliated voters know they can only mark and return a Democratic or a Republican ballot. But they can’t vote both — if they do, the votes won’t count.

“This is part of what we’re trying to convey,” Williams told the chamber’s Public Affairs Council this morning. “Make sure your vote counts.”

The secretary of state’s office recently polled unaffiliated voters.  Among the results:

  • 39 percent intend to vote in the primary
  • 33 percent don’t
  • 28 percent are undecided
  • 27 percent plan to vote in the Democratic primary
  • 12 percent plan to vote in the GOP primary

Read moreSecretary Williams explains campaign to educate unaffiliated voters

Colorado’s county clerks prepare for — and dress for — change

The Pitkin County Clerk’s office, with the assistance of Secretary of State Wayne Williams, model hats that reflect the seasons. Left to right: Clerk Janice Vos Caudill, fall; Kelly Curry, winter; Secretary Williams, mud; Beverly Mars, spring; and Mars’ daughter, Shelley Popish, summer. (SOS photo)

How do you come up with costumes when the theme of your conference is the nebulous “change?”

Pitkin County clerk staffer Kelly Cury, with her hat reflecting winter, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, with his hat for “mud” season, take the stage as part of the Colorado County Clerks Association’s costume contest Wednesday. (SOS photo)

Well, the Pitkin County clerk and recorder’s office focused on the changing seasons in one of the most picturesque locales in Colorado. For that effort, Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill and her staff Thursday night won a costume contest at the Colorado County Clerks Association’s winter conference.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams joined the Pitkin staff in modeling hats based on the five seasons.

Yes, five.  Williams wore the hat for “mud” season, you know, “the window of time between when the ski resorts close and when the summer activities pick up again.” With melting snow, there’s lots of mud.

There even was a brief wardrobe malfunction. The string on Williams’ hat broke before the contest started, and Vos Caudill enlisted a project manager with the Colorado Department of Revenue to fix it.

“I told Wayne’s wife (Holly), ‘I hope you don’t mind us dragging him through the mud — season,'” Vos Caudill said. “Wayne was so much fun.”

Read moreColorado’s county clerks prepare for — and dress for — change