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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMarch 16, 20182min776

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams ought to wear a sash; he and his staff seem to rack up awards like an Eagle Scout earns merit badges. The latest accolade, according to an announcement by the Secretary of State’s Office:

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office today received a prestigious award for its work in conducting a post-election audit that ensured election machines tabulated ballots the way voters marked them.

The award was presented to Colorado SOS staffer Dwight Shellman on behalf of Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and his staff at the 2018 Election Verification Network conference in Miami. …

… Colorado received a Public Service Award for being the first state to complete a risk-limiting audit — a procedure designed to find an incorrect election outcome if one exists. The audit after the November 2017 off-year election attracted attention nationwide.

Read more details here.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 21, 20182min1361

… OK, one of them is more like a smooth move: luring the 2020 National Association of Secretaries of State summer conference to Colorado. Specifically, to Williams’s hometown, Colorado Springs (at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, to be exact).

A press release from Williams’s office elaborated on his efforts to bring the July happening (specific dates TBA) to the Pikes Peak region:

In pushing for Colorado Springs’ selection, Secretary Williams touted its natural wonders, including Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak. He also pointed to its man-made attractions, such as the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel and U.S. Olympic Museum.

Now for the other honor — here’s another announcement from Williams’s office:

For the fourth time in five years, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office has been named a finalist for an award that recognizes innovation, excellence and achievement in public programs.

Colorado’s entry this year involves the office’s efforts concerning cybersecurity, the topic that dominated the National Association of Secretaries of State’s winter conference, which ended Monday in Washington, D.C.

The association announced this week that Colorado along with California, Indiana and Wyoming are the finalists for this year’s IDEAS innovation award. Said Williams:

“I’m honored that our peers recognize Colorado’s leadership on cybersecurity … Our staff leads the nation in election security innovation. We have found secure ways to make it easy to vote — even for deployed military in the most remote places — while also making it difficult to cheat. It’s not a simple fix. Rather, we’ve delivered a comprehensive suite of solutions that have garnered national attention and praise.”

Williams is on the association’s executive committee and met last week in Washington with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 24, 20182min531

…OK, so that’s not actually her new title; to be precise, Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell is the new president of the Colorado County Clerks Association. It’s quite an honor considering she was chosen by her fellow clerks, who ensure the integrity of elections in each of Colorado’s counties. They keep the democratic process running smoothly at its most fundamental level.

Reports Lynn Bartels, the blogger at large, messaging manager and media contact (among her many duties) for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams:

Mitchell, who succeeds Logan County Clerk Pam Bacon, took the oath of office on Jan. 18 at the clerk’s winter conference in Colorado Springs.

“It has been the honor of my life to serve the community where I grew up, and now I get to serve as president of the Colorado County Clerks Association,” Mitchell said. “This is the greatest group of people I have ever worked with. We always have our citizens in mind.

“We do good things.”

Mitchell, who was elected Chaffee county clerk and recorder in 2014, will serve a year at the helm of the state association, which advocates for the clerks statewide. According to its website, the organization, “supports best practices, use of technology and appropriate legislation through teamwork, communication and mutual respect.”

In other words, clerks are the folks who safeguard our right to vote.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirOctober 5, 20172min515

Leave it to veteran newshound Lynn Bartels — now of course the communications chief for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams — to follow up with some hard data from last week’s celebration of National Voter Registration Day. In a nutshell, the unaffiliated voters carried the day — as is increasingly the case in Colorado elections.

As Bartels reports on her blog, 953 people registered to vote in Colorado on Tuesday of last week; 454 of those opted to become unaffiliated, 285 went Democrat, and 190 registered as Republicans. The rest affiliated with third parties. Bottom line: Voters continue to give the cold shoulder to the two major parties, and the state remains purple — at least, as far as voter registration goes.

The data was released by the Secretary of State’s Office on Monday. Here’s more —

The five top counties with the most registrants were:

El Paso: 139

Denver: 128

Arapahoe: 113

Larimer: 100

Jefferson: 81

In addition, Boulder County registered 63 people and Adams and Douglas counties each registered 61.

Bartels points out:

Colorado boasts the highest percentage of registered voters in America among its eligible population. In addition, the turnout among registered voters in Colorado in the 2016 presidential election was 74.5 percent, the fourth highest in the nation, with 2.9 million voters casting ballots.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirSeptember 18, 20174min624
Dwight Shellman’s job title — county support manager for the Elections Division at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office — sounds wonkish enough to keep him toiling in the trenches of technocratic obscurity for the rest of his life. Yet, there he was, right in the middle of a national news report not long ago […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 20, 20173min267

This just in from the Secretary of State’s Office: Colorado’s economy continues to surge. Not really news, you say? And not necessarily good news, either, given how real estate prices and rents also keep soaring. OK, but unemployment is at historic lows, too. So, a strong economy is a mixed bag.

In any event, don’t blame the messenger: Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. His office announced today that new business entity filings and existing entity renewals with the office’s business division rose in the second quarter of 2017 compared to the same period last year. There was a slight dip in both measures from the first quarter this year.

Williams, quoted in a press statement, said:

“New entity filings continue an upward trajectory, which is good news for our state …. There are now nearly 650,000 business entities in good standing filed with our office.”

The data from Williams’s office is tracked and analyzed by the Business Research Division at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder, which regularly compiles the data in its Quarterly Business & Economic Indicators Report, also on file at the Secretary of State’s Office.

Also quoted in the press release is Richard Wobbekind, director of the Business Research Division:

“At this time the national economy appears poised to continue the third longest expansion in U.S. history …. We see few warning signs that could derail this trajectory over the next year. Colorado’s economy is still holding strong.”


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 3, 20172min273

You say you’d like some reassuring news, for a change, about the state of our democratic process? How’s this: Whatever role the Russians or anyone else may have played — or attempted to — in last November’s U.S. election, Colorado’s elections sentinels are on the lookout for any breaches in the cyber security of the state’s voting systems. Not an airtight guarantee, but it is cause to breathe a bit easier.

That’s one of the takeaways from last week’s Colorado County Clerks Association conference in Snowmass Village, per a blog post by Lynn Bartels, communications chief for the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. Her office works closely with Colorado’s frontline elections honchos, the county clerks, to employ the the latest security safeguards. In an informative wrap on the conference, Bartels blogs:

(Secretary of State’s Office information security point man Rich) Schliep said the goal of the office is to “work hard and smart when it comes to our elections.”

“Voting guarantees all of our other rights. We want to continue to uphold the integrity of our elections and ensure United States citizens have confidence in our elections process,” he said. …

… “We are always improving technologies such as secure file transfer systems and improved zero day malware detection tools,” Schliep said.

Also:

“Election administration is about mitigating risk,” said Amber McReynolds, Denver’s election director. “Security is critical and serious and as election officials we must partner with the best, whether that is inside the jurisdiction, or outside the organization.”


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirApril 20, 20177min415
Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert comes across as you would expect of the second in command to an elected state official: she knows the nuts and bolts; instills confidence; has the answers — and remains low-key. She’s sort of an alter ego and go-to person at large for high-profile Republican Secretary of State Williams. (She also is […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMarch 9, 20176min384

However much truth there once may have been to the tales of big-city machine politicians summoning whole graveyards, zombie-like, to the polls, the prevailing wisdom is it’s by and large a thing of the past. Certainly, we all hope so, and it is reassuring there is little if any evidence nowadays that a lot of people who shouldn’t be voting, dead or otherwise, are casting ballots en masse.

Of course, allegations of large-scale voting fraud and related abuses still surface reliably from one election to the next — though they rarely if ever are backed up by hard data. Typically, it’s Facebook fodder that gets regurgitated in campaign mailers and the occasional stump speech. Snopes.com could have spun off a separate website last year just to debunk all the claims — some even recycled by the current president — of massive voter fraud.

And when it actually does happen, it seems pretty isolated. Even in Chicago, where it once was thought that old voters never died, they just, well, kept on voting. Shortly before last November’s election, the CBS affiliate there dug up some dead voters in an investigative story. The news team merged Chicago Board of Election voter histories with the death master file from the Social Security Administration and came up with 119 dead people who had voted a total of 229 times in the last decade.

Regrettable, of course, but over a 10-year span in a jurisdiction of over 1.5 million registered voters, that’s not enough to keep one corrupt alderman in office or his nitwit nephew on the city payroll. What’s more, the station learned that most of the miscast ballots were likely clerical errors, involving family members with the same names and addresses. The real takeaway is the low number of such instances uncovered in the story.

It’s kind of a slap at the city’s once-proud reputation for election rigging. The elder Mayor Daley must be spinning in his grave — although he probably didn’t cast a ballot last November, either.

ColoradoPols makes a similar point this week regarding an incident a lot closer to home. Pols informs us of a press release from the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office in Colorado Springs announcing a conviction in a case of voter fraud from last year. From the clerk’s press statement as quoted by the blog:

Toni Newbill pleaded guilty to voting twice under Colorado Revised Statute 1-13-710. The penalty for this crime includes probation, community service, a fine, and other court fees. Ms. Newbill attempted to cast Ralph Nanninga’s ballot in the 2016 Primary Election. Mr. Nanninga passed away in 2012.

The press release quotes Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman:

“Our office takes voter fraud seriously and we’re committed to combating it in every form. We’ll continue to work with various agencies to prevent voter fraud, clean up registration lists, and prosecute those who try to abuse our democratic system.”

Not one to miss a chance to zing the Grand Old Party, Pols scores a direct hit:

To say that Republican elected officials “take voter fraud seriously” is a bit of an understatement, since vote fraud claims formed an outsize component of Republican pre-election messaging in the 2016 elections…

…But never mind all that, now we’ve got a real-life voter who has pled guilty to voting twice! Surely that confirms Republicans’ worst fears of rampant voter fraud, right? The answer is no, for two reasons. The first is that this conviction is evidence the system works. The attempt in this case by a Colorado voter to cast two ballots was not successful, because the voter in question, Toni Newbill, was caught.

And the second reason? Toni Newbill is a registered Republican. The election in which she attempted to cast two ballots was the 2016 primary election…

It turns out that a dead Republican can vote just like a dead Democrat. More to Pols’s point, though, the perp got caught. And the blog gives credit to another Republican for attesting to the overall integrity of the system:

It’s true that Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican himself, pushed back on Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated accusations that the “election is rigged,” but that didn’t stop the rumors from spreading within conservative media.

Alas, we’ll never stop the rumors, but in all likelihood, those who oversee our elections will stop the dead from voting and prosecute their living accomplices.