International professionals visit CO Secretary of State

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with Deputy Suzanne Staiert at his side lead a discussion with international visitors about elections in Colorado. (SOS photo)

International professionals from four continents visited with Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams Tuesday where they learned about the state’s nationally lauded election system. The participants hail from countries including Chile, Afghanistan, and South Sudan and are leaders in their fields of politics, business, and journalism.

“Coloradans vote at some of the highest rates in America because we make the process easy and fair, empower citizens to vote on taxes and other matters though initiatives and referenda, and instill confidence in the voters,” Williams said. “They know that their vote matters and that it will be counted.”

The participants, who are with the International Visitor Leadership Program,  visited Washington D.C. and Kansas City, Mo., before arriving in Denver. The IVLP is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program and has sought to build mutual understanding between the U.S. and other nations since its launch in 1940.

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Mexico delegation looks to Secretary of State’s office for information

Colorado election officials met Friday with a three Mexican senators and others to talk about anti-corruption efforts and transparency. Left to right: Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane; Trevor Timmons, IT director for the Secretary of State; Sen. Martha Angelica Tagle Martinez; Colorado political consultant Sean Walsh; Sen. Maria Marcella Torres Peimbert; SOS elections director Judd Choate; and Sen. Ernesto Ruffo Appel. (SOS photo)
Colorado election officials met Friday with a three Mexican senators and others to talk about anti-corruption efforts and transparency. Left to right: Arapahoe County Clerk Matt Crane; Trevor Timmons, IT director for the Secretary of State; Sen. Martha Angelica Tagle Martinez; Colorado political consultant Sean Walsh; Sen. Maria Marcella Torres Peimbert; SOS elections director Judd Choate; and Sen. Ernesto Ruffo Appel. (SOS photo)

Three state senators from Mexico – including one who introduced the country’s first tamper-proof voter identification cards when he was a governor – learned about transparency and bi-partisanship when they visited the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

All three are working on anti-corruption policies in their country, and were interested in the contention from SOS officials that while voter fraud does happen, it is rare and that Colorado has taken important steps to try to ensure election integrity. They also wanted to know how Colorado elections work.

“To vote is your right, but there is no restriction not to vote?” asked Sen. Maria Marcela Torres Peimbert.

Elections director Judd Choate told her she was correct, and added that Colorado has a high voter turnout, in part because the state is almost evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. He also said registration can be done online.

“That’s fantastic,” said Sen. Ernesto Ruffo Appel.

After the visit, he said he was worried about relations between his country and the United States. If there are problems, he said, it could devastate both economies.

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Armenians interested in Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ take on presidential politics

Colorado Secretary of State met with a group of international visitors from Armenia Thursday in his office in Denver. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams met with a group of international visitors from Armenia Thursday in his office in Denver. He is holding a gift he received. (SOS photo)

By Julia Sunny and Lynn Bartels

A group of Armenian officials who met with Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams Thursday were interested in a variety of topics, including overseas Americans participating in elections back home to the upcoming presidential contest.

Williams explained Colorado is a “swing” state that sometimes votes Republican and sometimes Democrat for president. He stunned the delegation when he told them that Hillary Clinton spoke in Denver on Tuesday and Donald Trump would be here  Friday.

“Seriously? Here?” one Armenian asked.

One visitor said he if were able to vote in the election he would choose Bernie Sanders.

The Armenians’ visit is part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Williams has met with other IVLP visitors before, including a group from the Middle East in March. Those visitors asked about marijuana and the “messy” precinct caucuses they had just observed.

The six-member Armenian delegation is traveling across the country. It will meet with the Cleveland Council on World Affairs in Ohio next week.

The presidential election is being closely observed overseas, and Williams was asked his thoughts.

Read moreArmenians interested in Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ take on presidential politics