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Media Release: Verified Voting Welcomes Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams to its Board of Advisors

Wayne Williams: “I’m excited to share my expertise so that we can continue to strengthen our nation’s election systems and voters’ confidence in those systems.”

Verified Voting, a leading national organization focused solely on making our voting technology secure, welcomes Wayne Williams to its Advisory Board. Williams, while serving as Colorado Secretary of State from 2015 to 2019, adopted new voting standards requiring voter-verifiable paper ballots and implemented the nation’s first statewide risk-limiting audit (RLA) in Colorado.

“Voter confidence in elections is critical for Americans’ faith in our democratic republic. The election reforms we adopted in Colorado, including paper ballots and the nation’s first full risk-limiting audit, helped encourage Coloradans to vote in record numbers. I’m excited to share my enthusiasm and election expertise on the Verified Voting Board of Advisors so that we can continue to strengthen our nation’s election systems and voters’ confidence in those systems,” said Williams.

Under Williams’ leadership, Colorado led the nation in voter registration and turnout. He also served on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Secretaries of State for three years. Prior to serving as Secretary of State Williams served as El Paso County Clerk & Recorder, where he successfully ran elections in Colorado’s most populous county. Williams graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University, received his law degree from the University of Virginia and is a Certified Elections/Registration Administrator. Williams is also a Harry S. Truman Scholar and received the Medallion Award from the National Association of Secretaries of State for his efforts in protecting the right to vote during the fire-ravaged primary election in 2012.

“Wayne Williams brings extensive expertise as an on-the-ground election official and we are delighted to have him join Verified Voting’s Advisory Board,” said Barbara Simons, Verified Voting’s Board Chair.

View the full list of Verified Voting Advisory Board members here.

For additional press inquiries, please contact Aurora Matthews at aurora@newheightscommunications.com

Editorials: Assessing the Minnesota Caucuses – Final Thoughts On Why It is Times to Scrap Them | Schultz’s Take

Minnesota’s February 7, political caucuses meant something this year…sort of. This year they were part of a trifecta of non-binding events that included the Colorado caucus and the Missouri primary that awarded no delegates but nonetheless had a significant media impact in rendering Rick Santorum a viable challenger to Mitt Romney.  In winning these three states the political world heralded that the party activists had again repudiated Romney.  Thus, Minnesota’s caucuses had a signal effect even if no delegates were awarded. But there are real problems with the caucus process in Minnesota and across the country.  Criticism of the Iowa caucus is growing as arguments are again mounted that it should not be first int nation since no delegates are awarded and its demographics are not representative of the country.  Read More

Voting Blogs: Small Isn’t Always Beautiful: New Data Suggests Lack of Scale Affects Election Costs in Smaller Jurisdictions | Doug Chapin/PEEA

In case you missed it over the holidays – I know I did – on December 27 Pew’s Election Data Dispatches looked at some new research on election costs in California and Colorado. Both studies found – as similar research had in North Dakota – that less-populous counties had a higher cost per registered voter. More specifically (from the Dispatch):

In California, the study examined election expenditures between 1992 and 2008 and found a 1 percent increase in county population correlated with a 0.05 percent decrease in expenditures per registered voter. For example, San Diego County had an average cost of $6.57 per voter, while Modoc County, the third-smallest county in the state, spent $18.07 per voter. Similarly, the Colorado report found the average cost per voter in 2010 for small counties was $10.21 versus $4.95 for medium counties and $4.92 for large counties.  Read More

Editorials: Maurice Emmer and Harvie Branscomb: Why insist on secrecy but dismiss anonymity? | AspenTimes.com

We both write repeatedly about the importance of election transparency. We present facts. We don’t make things up. Stories about revealing ballot “secrets” often sound like scary tales told to children. They are designed to frighten, not inform. Jack Johnson’s scary story recently published in another paper might trigger your instinct to fight, but that’s what fiction and political propaganda are intended to do.

Johnson’s column, and recent announcements by the city of Aspen, misconstrue election and open-records law as well as misrepresent the Marks v. Koch case and the Court of Appeals’ unanimous opinion in favor of ballot transparency. As untrue assertions have become Aspen’s norm, here we try to separate fact from fiction. Read More

Editorials: Colorado county clerks crying wolf | Vincent Carroll/The Denver Post

Get ready for a battle royal over the integrity of elections in Colorado — and just in time for this state’s apparently pivotal role in the 2012 presidential race. If the clash shapes up as expected, lawmakers will have to choose sides between a would-be election priesthood exempt from public oversight — I’m referring to the county clerks — and advocates for a fully open and accountable government.

The clerks, you see, are in a panic about a recent appeals court ruling that says voted ballots are public documents under the Colorado Open Records Act, so long as “the identity of the voter cannot be discerned from the face of that ballot.”

The court’s definition should include the vast majority of ballots, assuming election officials and voters follow the law. But if you listen to the clerks, you’d think the opposite. Embracing Chicken Little as their role model, the clerks’ association issued a statement after the ruling, claiming it “has removed the curtain from our voting booths. Most Coloradans believe their votes should be a secret from their friends, coworkers and even spouses, but today’s ruling means Coloradans’ personal choices can be seen by anyone who asks.” The clerks’ statement is either contemptible fear-mongering or an admission that they supervise a system that comprehensively thumbs its nose at the state constitution’s mandate of anonymous ballots. Read More

Voting Blogs: A Win for Voters Is Colorado Secretary of State Gessler’s Second Loss | Jonathan Brater/Huffington Post

Across the country, legislators and political operatives seem determined to make it more difficult for American citizens to vote. Since January, more than a dozen states passed a variety of different laws and executive actions that will make it far more difficult for millions to vote. Seven states, including Texas and South Carolina, will now require voters to present specified government-issued photo IDs to vote. Florida has gone after organizations like the League of Women Voters, threatening them with huge fines if they try to help register citizens to vote unless they comply with a new set of byzantine state rules. Georgia and Arizona are trying to knock down the Voting Rights Act, the most successful piece of civil rights legislation, in a court challenge. And Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler made headlines with the false claim that thousands of non-citizens were voting in Colorado. Last week, Secretary Gessler was at it again. This time he asked a court to essentially freeze the Denver electorate to those who voted in 2010. The court refused.

Colorado gives counties the option of conducting certain elections by “mail ballot.” In those elections, there are no traditional polling places; instead, citizens vote by mailing in ballots sent to them by the state. Colorado is holding such an election this November, and the Denver County Clerk and Recorder had planned to take the unremarkable step of sending ballots to all registered voters in the County, as she has for the last five election cycles. Secretary Gessler sued the Denver County Clerk and Recorder to make her stop, arguing that she may only send ballots to voters who voted in the last election. This move, had it prevailed, could have kept thousands of eligible and registered Colorado citizens from participating in this November’s elections, for no good reason. Read More

Voting Blogs: The Latest Battle in the War on Voting | Brennan Center for Justice

A Denver judge ruled on October 7 that the Denver Clerk and Recorder can mail ballots to “inactive” voters who missed one election, as she had planned. There will be a later legal proceeding to fully consider the issues. All across the country legislators and political operatives seem to be determined to make it more difficult for American citizens to vote.

Since January, more than a dozen states passed a variety of different laws and executive actions that will make it far more difficult for millions to vote. Seven states, including Texas and South Carolina, will now require voters to present certain government-issued photo IDs to vote. Florida has gone after organizations like the League of Women Voters, threatening them with huge fines if they try to help register citizens to vote unless they comply with a new set of byzantine state rules. Georgia and Arizona are trying to knock down the Voting Rights Act, the most successful piece of civil rights legislation, in a court challenge. And Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler made headlines with the false claim that thousands of non-citizens were voting in Colorado. Now Secretary Gessler is at it again, in a move that — if it stands — could essentially freeze the electorate to those who voted in 2010.

Colorado gives counties the option of conducting certain elections by “mail ballot.” In those elections, there are no traditional polling places; instead, citizens vote by mailing in ballots sent to them by the state. Colorado is holding such an election this November, and the Denver County Clerk and Recorder had planned to take the unremarkable step of sending ballots to all registered voters in the County, as she has for the last five election cycles. Secretary Gessler is suing the Denver County Clerk and Recorder to make her stop, arguing that she may only send ballots to voters who voted in the last election. This move, if it prevails, will keep thousands of eligible and registered Colorado citizens from participating in this November’s elections, for no good reason. Read More

Voting Blogs: Colorado Absentee Ballot Fight: Data Can Help This! | Election Updates

In the ongoing battle over absentee ballots in Colorado, we’ve heard the claims about disenfranchised military voters and we’ve heard the charges about partisanship.

Unfortunately, what we haven’t heard is some hard factual information that compares ballot return rates among active and inactive voters. Andrew Cole, spokesperson for Secretary of State Scott Gessler is quoted as saying “there were thousands of ballots mailed out to inactive voters in 2010 that were unaccounted for.”

I’ve tried to answer this question at the Denver County elections office. Total registration, active and inactive, was 297,558 according to the spreadsheet available here: Of that total, 22,696 are “Inactive – Fail to vote”, or 7.63% of the total. Read More

Editorials: Colorado’s besieged clerks | Vincent Carroll/The Denver Post

Wherever you go in Colorado, the most public-be-damned civil servant is likely to be the county clerk.

I’ve reached this conclusion with regret, since my experience with clerks over many years, without fail, has been pleasant and fruitful. But the clerks this year have dug themselves into a stance that endangers the integrity of elections. Moreover, to protect their monopoly on access to voted ballots — a monopoly to which they clearly have no right under the Colorado Open Records Act — they are trying to scare the public with lurid tales of how voter anonymity is at risk.

Back in March, you may recall, the clerks association denounced a bid by Secretary of State Scott Gessler to conduct an official, public recount of a contested election in Saguache County, claiming his “proposal sets a dangerous precedent.” The clerks’ real fear, however, was not that Gessler might look over their shoulder but that he would let the public do so, too. And he did — once a district judge ruled in August that “voted ballots are election records” under the open records law, permitting the recount to proceed. Read More

Voting Blogs: Denver’s Inactive Ballot Flap: The Difficulty of Hitting a Moving Target | Doug Chapin/PEEA

On Monday, Colorado’s Secretary of State threatened to sue the Clerk/Recorder for the City and County of Denver if it followed through with plans to mail 2011 ballots to over 55,000 Denver voters classified as “inactive” because they failed to vote in 2010.

The dispute, which is vaguely reminiscent of the recent Battle of Cuyahoga over Ohio absentee ballot applications, once again pits a state official determined to enforce state law against a local official who seeks to continue a practice aimed at assisting voters.

What’s interesting in Colorado, however, is that the law is somewhat uncertain – which means that both parties in this dispute (Donnybrook in Denver? Rocky Mountain Rumble? Mile-High Melee?) might not have the full weight of authority on their side. Read More