A roll of the dice and off goes Colorado to audit elections in a new way

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams explains what’s next after multi-colored 10-sided dice were used Friday to establish a “seed” to randomly select ballots for each county to audit. (SOS photo/Judd Choate)

A process to audit Colorado’s elections in a different manner drew national attention Friday when participants at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office plucked names from Rockies and Broncos baseball caps to see who would roll 20 colored 10-sided dice. The numbers were used to come up with a “seed” to randomly select ballots from the Nov. 7 election for the counties to audit.

From left, U.S. Election Assistance Commission chairman  Matt Masterson, Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane and Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall wait for dice to be rolled, the first step in randomly selecting ballots for each county to audit during the RLA. (SOS photo)

The light-hearted ceremony kicked off work that began in 2009 when the Colorado General Assembly passed legislation requiring every county after every election to create a risk-limiting audit, a procedure that provides strong statistical evidence that the election outcome is right and has a high probability of correcting a wrong outcome.

“It was an incredibly successful first effort,” said the Secretary of State’s Dwight Shellman, the county support manager.  “I’m really proud of our team and of all the county clerks. We are already in the process of working with the clerks and interested stakeholders to collect lessons learned to make the process even better in the future.”

The Secretary of State’s office will release a report Monday on the first steps of the audit.

Read moreA roll of the dice and off goes Colorado to audit elections in a new way

Talking to Costilla County, then & now

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Costilla County Clerk Karen Garcia, left, and her staffers Najondine Placek and Miranda Esquibel. (SOS photo/Eddie Morgan)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Costilla County Clerk Karen Garcia, left, and her staffers Najondine Placek and Miranda Esquibel during a visit one year ago. (SOS photo/Eddie Morgan)

By Lynn Bartels and Eddie Morgan

Costilla County Clerk and Recorder Karen Garcia had never had a secretary of state visit her office — until Wayne Williams dropped by one year ago.

Williams visited three other county clerks that September day as part of his effort to check in on the elected officials, view their election set up and see if there is any way his office can help. The office published blogs about the other clerk visits, but wasn’t able to get a hold of Costilla County to check some details.

Fast forward to Wednesday when Williams visited Salida, where clerks from the southern region were holding training. Williams met two staffers from Costilla County. Costilla County? We wrote a blog about you, but couldn’t publish it because we had check out some final details.

“We kept looking for it,” staffer Miranda Esquibel said.

“No one answered any phone number we called,” she was informed, only to be told the number changed but the old one continued to ring, making people think it was still in service.

CONTINUED …

Read moreTalking to Costilla County, then & now