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EDITORIAL: Wayne Williams leads country's fairest election system

By: The Gazette editorial board
May 12, 2018 Updated: May 14, 2018 at 6:44 am
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Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams addresses a rally for National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 22, 2015, in Denver's Civic Center Park. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

Serious warnings and conspiracy theories abound, telling of election fraud involving illegal immigrants, Russians, the homeless and the dead. Thankfully, Colorado voters can rest easy. Their elections are the most accurate and fair in the country, with a system of checks and balances that does not tolerate fraud or mistakes.

Don't take our word for it. Look to The Washington Post, which this week credits Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with running the country's safest system in which to cast a vote.

"As local officials across the country scramble to hack-proof their voting systems ahead of the midterm elections, there's one state that is paving the way as a leader in election security," wrote The Washington Post's Derek Hawkins in an article published Thursday.

"Colorado has done virtually everything election experts recommend states do to stave off a repeat of 2016, when Russian hackers targeted 21 states as part of the Russian government's massive election interference campaign."

The article explains how Colorado, under the watchful eye of Williams, records every vote on a paper ballot. Williams conducts rigorous post-election audits "favored by voting researchers." Election officials take part in security training courses in counties throughout the state. Information technology specialists test computer networks for weaknesses.

"Colorado is certainly hitting all the high points that we've been arguing others should," said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology and an expert on voting systems, as quoted by The Post. "It's hard to compare states apples-to-apples because they're so different, but Colorado has really been a leader."

Under Williams, The Post explains, Colorado's county clerks use "two-factor authentication to access voter registration databases, which Russian hackers targeted in 2016. And in 2017 it became the first state in the country to complete a statewide risk-limiting audit."

None of this surprises us. Before running for secretary of state, Williams served in Colorado Springs as county clerk and recorder of what was the state's most populous county. He has always been more of a detailed election expert than a politician.

By education and experience, Williams is a lawyer with expertise in election law. More notably, Williams bases his reputation on the confidence voters have in the integrity of casting ballots.

Election integrity has been the secretary's emphasis in meetings with The Gazette's editorial board over the years, and that is what interested the Post in how he built a system so widely respected by experts.

"If people perceive a risk, they're less likely to participate in voting," Williams told The Post. "We want to protect people from that threat, and we want to people to perceive that they are protected from that threat."

Nothing a secretary of state does matters more than protecting fair and accurate accounting of voter decisions, without regard to any voter's party affiliation. If elections are not fair, corruption wins.

Secretary Williams deserves accolades as the country's leader in keeping elections clean, accurate and fair. Other states should follows his lead, before November's nationwide midterm election.

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