Doug RobinsonDoug RobinsonAugust 1, 20184min680

While losing hurts a lot, the past four weeks have been a great opportunity to spend time with my family, unwind, and do some reflecting on the past year. As a first-time candidate, I learned a number of lessons about the electoral process and wanted to share my thoughts about improvements we can and should make for statewide candidates. These changes will make the process more fair and protect the democratic nature of our elections.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMarch 30, 20182min603

…The Secretary of State’s Office’s Julia Sunny, writing for Lynn Bartels’s blog, offers a solid and helpful overview of the many candidates and issues facing voters on local ballots across this vast state of ours this coming Tuesday. From setting up local broadband service to allowing retail pot sales (state law allows local opt-in/opt-out), to taxes and term limits, local issues run the gamut.

Here’s a smattering of the ballot issues up for grabs:

… Firestone, Frisco, Lake City, Limon, Lyons and Severance will ask their voters for authorization to move forward in providing broadband. …

… Naturita voters will decide whether to allow marijuana sales, manufacturing, testing or cultivation, as well as whether to implement a marijuana sales tax and/or excise tax. Berthoud is asking their voters if municipally licensed medical marijuana dispensaries should be allowed to add retail sales. …

… Pagosa Springs voters will consider whether to impose term limits of two consecutive four-year terms, voters in Glendale will decide if their mayor and council members shall be limited to three consecutive four-year terms …

… Morrison and Palmer Lake voters will decide whether to move their regular town elections to November of even-numbered years. …

And of course there’s the usual bevy of tax issues, including a tobacco tax on the ballot in Basalt, a tax extension for the museum and street improvements in La Veta, the  extension of a tax for a family rec center in Cortez — the list goes on. And on.

That’s just scratching the surface; read Sunny’s full blog post for much more depth. Here’s the link again.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirNovember 29, 20173min736

It wasn’t long ago that Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams penned a “Podium” commentary for us, pointing out for us how every vote can be pivotal. And leave it to the elections watchdogs at Williams’s office to provide us not one but 14 — yes, fourteen — examples from just this past election.

As Secretary of State’s Office information minister Lynn Bartels writes in her blog this week:

Longtime election officials in Adams County can’t remember the last time a contest was so close it required a mandatory recount, so there’s more than just a little surprise that the county must recheck the outcome in five — yes, five– races. …

… In all, 14 races statewide in the Nov. 7 coordinated election are subject to a mandatory recount and of those six were tied after local canvass boards certified results, underscoring the message Secretary of State Wayne Williams delivers when talking to Coloradans: Every vote counts. Williams was the El Paso County clerk and recorder when two school board races were decided by a single vote, and a municipal tax question failed because it was tied.

Some of the races are real photo finishes, writes Bartels:

Among the tied races was a school board contest in Julesberg, where voters were to select three directors from six hopefuls. Tammy Aulston and Daniella Fowler were tied for the third slot at 225 votes each and they remained tied after the canvas board conducted the recount, Sedgwick County Clerk Chris Beckman said.

What’s more:

Under state law, if candidates are still tied the winner is determined by lot. So on Nov. 16 — more than a week after the election — Aulston and Fowler’s names were put into a bowl.  Aulston’s name was drawn, so she was elected.

Bartels writes about those nail biters and more; what you could call a true cautionary tale. Read the full blog post; here’s the link again.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirOctober 30, 20173min981

A boatload of cash has been pouring into some Denver-area school board races — particularly in the make-or-break face-off over control of the Douglas County School District’s board of education. The board has been run since 2009 by a succession of reform-minded majorities whose agenda has included enacting a school-voucher program (as-yet unimplemented amid a years-long court challenge) and effectively ending collective bargaining with the Douglas County Federation, the local teachers union, in 2012.

The union has been trying to climb back into the saddle ever since and, in the upcoming election, is supporting a slate of candidates that is angling to take the board majority. As has been widely reported, the local union’s national parent, the American Federation of Teachers, recently dumped $300,000 into an independent political committee that favors the slate.

Now, Chalkbeat Colorado’s Nic Garcia reports that the group Campaign Integrity Watchdog filed a campaign-finance complaint this week with the Secretary of State’s Office against that same independent committee, Douglas Schools for Douglas Kids, over the contribution:

A report filed by the committee shows one contribution from the union. However, other records filed by the union make it appear like there were two contributions — both $300,000 — from the union to the same committee. One donation is from “American Federation of Teachers” the second donation is from “American Federation of Teachers Solidarity.”

The union, responding to questions from Chalkbeat, said the double reporting was a clerical error made in an attempt to amend its original report and that it only made one $300,000 donation to the committee.

Campaign Integrity Watchdog’s Matt Arnold told Chalkbeat, “It’s possible they screwed up the reporting,” but “voters deserve to have information about who is trying to buy and sell their votes.”



Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirSeptember 1, 20173min454

…And its staff is coming to a gathering near you, sometime soon, to teach you more about voting and election issues.

Speaking of which, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams sure gets around, doesn’t he? As chronicled on SOS communications czarina Lynn Bartels’s blog, Williams always seems to be bringing good news about the state’s elections system and related topics to audiences around the state. (Heck, the guy stumps as if he were a politician. Which, of course, he is — though as far as we know, he is one of the few Republican officeholders in Colorado these days who isn’t rumored to be running for another political office.)

In a post this week on Bartels’s blog,  Lizzie Stephani reports on an appearance by Williams and crew at a gathering of Jefferson County Republicans. One takeaway:

Event-goers at the Jeffco event peppered Williams with questions about Proposition 107, which creates a presidential primary and allows unaffiliated voters to participate, and Proposition 108, which allows unaffiliated voters to cast either or a Democratic or Republican ballot but without affiliating with either party.

Williams asked the legislature to pick up the cost of the presidential primary — the next one is in four years — but he said counties must bear the additional costs of sending ballots to unaffiliated voters in the June 2018 primary.

Williams also addressed the provision in Prop 108 that allows the state Democratic or Republican parties to cancel the primary if 75 percent of the party’s state central committee votes to do so, which would prevent unaffiliated voters from helping select the nominee for the general election. The nominees would be selected during the caucus process.

The secretary pointed out the outcry last year when the Colorado Republican Party canceled a nonbinding presidential preference poll.

Both 107 and 108 pose a lot of unknowns, notably: How many unaffiliated voters actually will take advantage of their newfound clout? The answer awaits us next spring. One thing’s for sure: Williams will be in the thick of it all when we find out.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirAugust 31, 20174min549
Cowboys and cowgirls mingle at the Denver Rustlers: Rep. Susan Lontine of Denver, Secretary of State Wayne Williams, Sen. Larry Crowder of Alamosa, and Denver Elections director Amber McReynolds. (SOS photo)’s Joey Bunch gave you an eyeful of the Denver Rustlers in his coverage of the civic group’s annual ride Tuesday from the Queen City of the Prairie to the sultry Steel City, home of the Colorado State Fair. Yet, no coverage of the annual charitable event — involving Colorado’s political potentates and business big shots — would be complete without getting Lynn Bartels’s take.

Owing to her decades in the news biz, the former political correspondent and now minister of information for the Secretary of State’s Office is on a first-name basis with many of the state’s high and mighty — and has a keen eye for capturing them in pictures and in print. She didn’t disappoint with her rendering of this year’s Rustler ride, which she posted on her blog. She included some great pics, which (apologies to Bartels) are reprised here — Lynn’s captions and all:


Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway and former state agricultural secretary Don Ament at the Denver Rustlers lunch at Del Frisco’s. (SOS photo)


Republicans Pete Coors and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner at the Denver Rustlers event. (SOS photo)


Gathered for Tuesday’s Denver Rustler’s event: Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, Steve Weil of Rockmount Ranch, and Wes Friednash and Josh Hanfling, who both help oversee the event. (SOS photo)


Denver City Councilwoman Kendra Black and Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson. (SOS photo)


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 23, 20172min380

Leave it to Lynn Bartels to pine away for the open prairie — while visiting Aspen. But then, the longtime Colorado political reporter turned communications director for the Secretary of State’s Office was just ditto-ing the sentiment of a county clerk from the state’s eastern plains after both attended this week’s Colorado County Clerks Association summer conference in Snowmass Village near Aspen.

Bartels blogs:

Yuma County Clerk Beverly Wenger wrote about her visit to the Aspen area on Facebook Wednesday.

“It is just peaceful and beautiful! Truly a creation of God’s,” she said.

“Still love my plains though! Nothing beats wheat and cornfields, fresh turned dirt, the incredible sunrises and sunsets and the wide open country!!”

I know exactly how Wenger feels. I grew up in eastern South Dakota and I always feel so hemmed in when I’m in the mountains.

Bartels goes on to recount a long-ago story assignment from her days at the Rocky Mountain News in which she was sent out to Colorado’s plains, only to learn after making it to Burlington that the story was a bust. When called home, she had no regrets:

“It was so green and so beautiful. The corn is really coming along,” I gushed after my trip along Interstate 70.

You can take a Bartels out of eastern South Dakota, but you can’t take the eastern South Dakota out of a Bartels.

Be sure to tune in to Bartels blog for regular updates and insights from the Secretary of State’s Office — along with the occasional reverie.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 20, 20172min350

Don’t believe us? Just ask Lynn Bartels, communications chief for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. Lynn’s must-read blog — reflecting her wisdom from decades as news hound covering government and politics for the mainstream media — frequently showcases the mechanics of the election process.

A blog post this week bearing the headline, “Colorado’s county clerks: the rock stars of democracy,” highlights some of the people who keep the mechanism itself finely tuned and well oiled:

A state senator on Monday praised Colorado’s 64 county clerks, saying they’re the reason Colorado is a “beacon of how elections should be done.”

“I really believe the county clerks are the rock stars of democracy,” said Denver Democrat Lois Court. “I know you all work your little tails off … and I salute you for everything you do.”

Court was one of three lawmakers honored by the Colorado County Clerks Association, which is holding its summer conference in Snowmass Village. The association also honored Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose, and Rep. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, and presented an award to Logan County Attorney Alan Samber, for his work on a bill that involved land title registrations.

Read more about the often-unsung heroes of the election process; here’s the link again to Lynn’s blog post. Maybe it’ll even inspire you to give ’em a hug.