Secretary of State works to improve lobbying transparency

The Colorado Secretary of State met with lobbyists and others Wednesday to talk about how to improve the SOS’ online system for filing lobbyist disclosures. Front row, left to right, Megan Wagner with Brandeberry McKenna Public Affairs;  Angie Binder with the Colorado Petroleum Association; Mike Beasley and Alec Wagner of 5280 Strategies; and Loren Furman, with the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry. Back row, left to right, are three Secretary of State staffers,  Mike Hardin, director of Business and Licensing, Trevor Timmons, information technology director and Gary Zimmerman, chief of staff. Sitting with them is lawyer-lobbyist Mike Feeley. (SOS photo)

A working group of lobbyists and activists who use lobbying data met with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office this week to talk about how to make the reporting process more workable and transparent.

Lobbyists must register with the Secretary of State, and they electronically file information about the clients they work with and other data.

“You’re here because you’re the ones who have to input the information in the system and we don’t want to make it impossible for you to try to do your job,” said Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert.

Read moreSecretary of State works to improve lobbying transparency

All about U — and enjoying life

Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert and her wooden U.

A chaise lounge. Wine glasses. A sign to the pool. Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne’s Staiert’s decorated U is totally her.

The state seal was a nice touch, too, considering the Secretary of State has control over the use of the seal. And here’s to the flip flops above the V O T E.

Secretary Wayne Williams is handing out the U’s as part of the UChooseCO campaign to educate unaffiliated voters that they can participate in the June 26 primary election, but they can only vote one ballot. The campaign has a web pageFacebook page, a Twitter account and its own hashtag, #UChooseCO.

Other staffers also have decorated U’s including myself and Secretary Williams, while some SOS U’s are still in the design stage. (Tim Griesmer, get on it.)

At least every week day between now and the June 26 primary the Secretary of State’s office will highlight a wooden U or two. They’ve been decorated by lawmakers, county clerks, a former mayor and a former governor. Check out more decorated U’s on Facebook and Twitter.

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

From Denver to the plains — three Colorado High Schools receive voter registration awards

Kit Carson High School, Denver South High School and Peak to Peak High School all recently received the Eliza Pickrell Routt award for registering 85 percent or more of eligible seniors to vote.

Kit Carson High School

Secretary Williams with the seniors in attendance at the Eliza Pickrell Routt award ceremony in Cheyenne county. (Pat Daugherty photo)

This is the second year in a row that the seniors at Kit Carson HS have received this award. Last year, seniors Jaxon Crawford and Bradley Johnson registered not only students at their high school but also at their rival high school, Eads, to win the Eliza Pickrell Routt award for both schools. The two boys worked with Inspire Colorado, a nonprofit dedicated to getting high schoolers registered to vote.

During their efforts last year, the junior class also participated in registering, but since the award is only for seniors, they had to wait. Kit Carson exceeded the 85 percent registration requirement again thanks to Crawford and Johnson, who were also recognized with this year’s award. Every member of the senior class registered to vote this year.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams traveled to the eastern plains to recognize these students and present the awards. Crawford and Johnson were not in attendance because of college finals, and the majority of the senior class was at a Rockies game as part of the senior sendoff.

Cheyenne County Clerk Pat Daugherty congratulated the students on their second award in a row and thanked Williams for making the trip.


Denver South High School

Colorado state elections director Judd Choate, left, South HS seniors Sophie Cardin and Tori Wyman, and South HS Principal Jen Hanson. (SOS photo)

In Denver’s Wash Park neighborhood, the South High Rebels senior class were presented with the Eliza Pickrell Routt award for the first time. Colorado state elections director Judd Choate presented the award.

Two students, Torie Wyman and Sophie Cardin, led the voter registration effort and registered 85 percent of their eligible peers to vote. Inspire Colorado partnered with the school and offered updates and support. Wyman is headed to Colorado State University to study journalism and Cardin, a Boettcher scholar, is going to Colorado College to study philosophy.

“We foster student voice at South and this will help them carry this into their adult lives,” Principal Jen Hanson said. “They are our future and need to know how they can impact change.”


Peak to Peak High School

Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert, left, Peak to Peak senior Robin Peterson, center, and Inspire Colorado regional coordinator, Hannah Sieben, right. (SOS photo)

In Boulder, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert presented the Eliza Pickrell Routt award to Peak to Peak for the second year in a row. 119 of the 140 seniors registered to vote, putting them at 85 percent registration.

Senior Robin Peterson pioneered the effort this year and last year. She had help from Inspire, who trained her on voter registration and leadership in civic engagement and provided her with support and materials for the days that the school did voter registration drives.

Peterson will be attending Claremont McKenna College in California to study government and politics this fall.

“Robin was a pleasure to work with and really did this out of her own interest,” Hannah Sieben, Inspire regional coordinator, said.

Peterson’s English teacher, Josh Benson, and three other students, Elle Triem, Bella Sicker and Sudeepti Nareddy assisted in registering students.

“It’s difficult to make a difference when you’re young,” Peterson said. “I feel that a simple act like registering my peers to vote has the most profound impact on our country and in Colorado.”

To learn more about the Eliza Pickrell Routt award and how your school can participate, visit our website.


Strasburg High School seniors honored with voter registration award

Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert looks on as Meghan Baucum from Inspire Colorado speaks to Strasburg high school students.

Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert headed to the Eastern Plans this week to present the Eliza Pickrell Routt award to Strasburg High School seniors.

The award is presented to high schools that have registered 85 percent or more of eligible students. The Secretary of State’s office partners with Inspire Colorado to encourage young people to vote.

Deputy Secretary Staiert recognized two seniors, Alison Nuttall and Justine Landrum, for leading the effort to get their peers registered. They took on the challenge as part of a senior project that included a presentation to the senior class about the importance of voting and how to register to vote.

Strasburg, pop. 2,447, east of Denver.

“For all of you that are going away to college or going away somewhere else, keep in mind you can use your phone to change your address come November to ensure that you get a ballot,” Staiert said. “Keep that civic engagement that you have here going.”

Inspire Colorado’s website says “Regardless of political affiliation or points of view, our goal is to encourage all eligible citizens to vote.”

A list of Eliza Pickrell Routt award winners can be found on the Secretary of State’ website.

Principal Jeff Rasp says that he hopes to continue the registration efforts in the future by getting at least 90 percent of seniors to register each year. This is the first time Strasburg High School has received the Eliza Pickrell Routt award.

Josh Rasp with the Eliza Pickrell Routt award that was awarded to Eaglecrest High School in 2016. (Cherry Creek school district photo)

“We fully expect all of our registered students to vote on a consistent basis and be involved as responsible citizens,” he said.

Rasp’s son, Josh Rasp,  received the same award in 2016 when he was a senior at Eaglecrest High School. Josh was the recipient of a scholarship from Inspire Colorado because of his outstanding work in registering his peers.

“We strongly encourage our students to become involved in their community and that they truly do have a voice,” Principal Rasp said. “We want our students to be responsible citizens and registering to vote and then voting is a crucial part of having a positive impact on our society.”