$52 per vote? County clerks explore changing early-voting requirements

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams addresses the Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission on Tuesday, which discussed early-voting requirements. Seated at the table are other commission members, including from left to right Aurora City Clerk Karen Goldman, Sen.-elect Dominic Moreno, D-Commerce City, and Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams addresses the Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission on Tuesday, which discussed early-voting requirements. Seated at the table are other commission members, from left to right, Aurora City Clerk Karen Goldman, Sen.-elect Dominic Moreno, D-Commerce City, and Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. Behind Moreno is Douglas County Clerk Merlin Klotz. (SOS photo)

Colorado’s county clerks want some leeway when it comes to providing early-voting locations during general elections because of costs, the turnout and the difficulty in securing locations and judges.

Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane said the data suggests the first week could be eliminated – his county spent $52 per vote over those six days. But he said one option for Arapahoe might be reducing locations for that first week from 11 to just the clerk’s office and the four Motor Vehicle offices.

Martha Tierney, the attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party and a commission member, opposed the reductions.

“We saw two- and three-hour lines (on Election Day),” she said. “Let’s not forget that.”

The discussion about polling centers was the lone topic of discussion Tuesday at the fourth meeting of the Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission, which was created by Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with support from legislators and others concerned with elections. The goal of the commission is to come up with solutions to fix election problems identified by Williams, his staff and others.

Williams told the group that he believes the data “clearly shows” that the present number of sites is excessive, but he doesn’t think the first week should be eliminated.

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Snap judgment all wrong: He’s no leftie

Steve Barlock has been called many things in his life but he has never been labeled left wing — until now.

The 44-year-old Denver resident was part of a large crowd that gathered at the Colorado Capitol Monday amid widespread speculation that some of the nine Democratic electors would try to revolt. Instead of voting for Democrat Hillary Clinton as required because she won Colorado, they wanted to throw their vote so that someone besides Donald Trump would win the presidency.

As a former reporter, I worked out of the Capitol off and on since 2000 and I was stunned at the size of the crowd in the rotunda. I posted a picture it on Twitter, saying, “This is an unbelievable scene. At the Capitol waiting for the elector vote.”

“Angry Left Wing Extremists,” one person wrote on Twitter.

Except that Barlock, the guy with the flag scarf in the picture, is no leftie. Barlock served as co-chairman of Denver County’s Donald Trump campaign and he also was a Republican elector — meaning if Trump had won Colorado instead of Clinton, Barlock would have been a participant instead of a spectator Monday.

He appeared in numerous TV shots of the event.

As it turned out, only one elector refused to vote for Clinton and he was replaced by a Democrat waiting in the wings.

“I was hoping with this crazy stuff that they’d run out of people and I’d say, ‘I’m willing to vote for Hillary Clinton,’ because I wanted to make sure Donald Trump became president,” Barlock said.

He took grief from some people in the mostly pro-Clinton, anti-Trump crowd because the part of the scarf behind his neck said “Trump.” Two people called him “bigot.” He said he wasn’t fazed because “I was happy to watch the shock and awe as the crowd realized nothing was going to happen.”

The other Republican electors not called up for duty were: GOP chairman Steve House; former U.S. Senate candidate Pete Coors; former U.S. Senate candidate Robert Blaha, who was a Colorado co-chair for Trump; Jim O’Dell of Brighton; Laurel Imer of Wheat Ridge; Charlie McNeil of Greenwood Village; Bill Cagle of Greenwood Village; and Eileen Milzcik of Littleton.

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.

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Medal of Honor recipient inspires at Healing Our Heroes event

Congressman Mike Coffman, U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser and Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry at the Healing our Heroes gala Friday in Denver. Petry was the keynote speaker.
Congressman Mike Coffman, U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser and Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry at the Healing our Heroes gala Friday in Denver. Petry was the keynote speaker.

For the second time in my life, I’ve shaken the hand of a Medal of Honor recipient.

The first time was in the early 1980s when I worked for The Gallup Independent in Gallup, N.M., and got to know Heroshi Miyamura. The Gallup native, known as “Hershey,” in 1951 in Korea killed more than 50 enemy soldiers, including hand-to-hand fighting with a bayonet, while ordering his men to fall back.

Hershey Miyamura.
Hershey Miyamura.

The next time was at the Healing our Heroes luncheon Friday in Denver when I met former Army Ranger Leroy Petry, who also is a New Mexico native. I didn’t realize until I went to shake his hand that he lost his right one while throwing a live grenade away from his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan in 2008.

Petry served as the keynote speaker for the Healing our Heroes gala, which raised money to help injured veterans receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

“I thank God every morning that I’m here,” Petry said. “So many paid the ultimate price or suffered horrific injuries.”

Read moreMedal of Honor recipient inspires at Healing Our Heroes event