Secretary Williams, others, concentrate on election security in Philly

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, center front, with some of the nation’s secretaries of state, including Colorado’s Wayne Williams, back right. She spoke to the National Association of Secretaries of State about election security at NASS’ conference in Philadelphia on July 14.

Election security once again dominated the conversation — and Colorado once again proved to be a leader — when the National Association of Secretaries of State gathered in Philadelphia for its summer conference.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams outlined for the group the steps his office has taken when it comes to cybersecurity — moves that that led Colorado to be named a finalist for the fourth time in five years for a NASS award that recognizes innovation.

“Elections only work if people trust them,” Williams said.

Four Coloradans with a seat at a high-powered elections security meeting in Philadelphia; Judd Choate, elections director for the Colorado secretary of state, Sarah Ball Johnson, clerk for the city of Colorado Springs, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Amber McReynolds, elections director for Denver.

Kirstjen Nielsen, the director of the Department of Homeland Security, reinforced to secretaries of state and election officials that one of her top priorities has been to enhance the resilience of the nation’s election infrastructure.

“As I see it,” she said, “election security is national security.”

And the day before NASS kicked off its conference, Williams and other members of the Election Infrastructure Subsector Government Coordinating Council met at the same Philadelphia hotel to discuss the security of election systems.

The group oversees how the Department of Homeland Security works with state and local jurisdictions to implement its designation of elections systems as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

“At one point there were 27 people around the table — including members of DHS, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and other national groups – four of those 27 were from Colorado,” Williams said. “Colorado’s commitment to election security is so strong.”

The other Coloradans at that meeting were Judd Choate, the elections director for the Colorado Secretary of State, Sarah Ball Johnson, the clerk in Colorado Springs, and Amber McReynolds, Denver’s elections director.

Read moreSecretary Williams, others, concentrate on election security in Philly

Colorado Springs city clerk elected vice chair of national elections board

Colorado Springs’ city clerk, Sarah Ball Johnson, has been elected vice president of a national elections group that makes recommendations to the Election Assistance Commission to help it carry out its mandates.

Colorado Springs City Clerk Sara Ball Johnson.
Colorado Springs City Clerk Sara Ball Johnson.

Johnson’s election occurred earlier this month when the Board of Advisors, a permanent advisory committee established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, met in Chicago for its annual meeting.

“It’s a really great group, a really good group,” Johnson said. “because it’s made up of election officials and different activists from the different appointing authorities … so it’s a really varied board.”

Johnson, 46, was nominated to serve on the board almost a decade ago by Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who now is the Senate majority leader. She said she worked for him “years and years ago” before being hired by the Kentucky State Board of Elections for 17 years, seven as the executive director.

She has served as as the city clerk in Colorado Springs for four years. As such, she serves as custodian of city records, processes business licenses, runs city elections and helps staff City Council meetings.

She worked closely with Secretary of State Wayne Williams when he served as El Paso County’s clerk and recorder.

“Sarah has been a great addition to Colorado,” Williams said. “Working together, we made voting easier for our citizens and ensured the integrity of the process while keeping costs down.”

HAVA mandates that the EAC test and certify voting equipment, maintain the National Voter Registration form, conduct research and administer a national clearinghouse on elections that includes shared practices, information for voters and other resources to improve elections, according to a news release from the organization.