Wayne Williams

Former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams speaks at a Republican event in Greenwood Village last year, as then-state GOP chairman Jeff Hays, left, and state treasurer nominee Brian Watson look on.

Former Secretary of State Wayne Williams has been named a Leader of Democracy by the League of Women Voters of Colorado.

He is credited by the league with modernizing the state elections system and "creating programs to increase voter turnout and ease voting processes, and making Colorado the safest state in which to vote," the organization said in an announcement Thursday.

“Wayne Williams was a clear choice for Leader of Democracy, due to his strong nonpartisan work in reforming and strengthening Colorado’s elections systems into the strongest in the nation during a time when election integrity was challenged by outside forces," Ruth Stemler, president of the  League of Women Voters of Colorado, told Colorado Politics.

"If people don’t trust the system, they don’t vote, and Secretary Williams worked across the aisle to ensure that Colorado voters had confidence in our systems. Our voting is amongst easiest and most accessible in the nation, and we’re proud to honor Secretary Williams for his work.”

Williams, a Republican, lost his re-election bid last November to Democrat Jena Griswold. He was elected to an at-large seat on the Colorado Springs City Council in April.

Williams was honored as a statewide leader. Williams and other honorees are scheduled to receive their awards at an event at the Wellshire Event Center in Denver Thursday night.

Last year's Colorado Leaders of Democracy was former U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, a Democrat who served on President Obama's Cabinet and previous to that as Colorado's attorney general.

In 2017, the award went to former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, a Democrat who has declared his candidacy for U.S. Senate  next year.

The league also is expected to honor FairMaps Colorado as Leader of Democracy in a category for nonprofit organizations.

The bipartisan coalition drove the last year's statewide passage of amendments Y and Z to create independent commissions to draw district maps for Colorado's congressional districts and for members of the General Assembly.

The League of Women Voters also presents a prize for the best student project related to National History Day Colorado.

This year's winners were Riley Lookadoo and Samantha North of Castle Rock High School for their documentary, "Tinker Stands for Students Rights."

The director of the program was Celeste Archer, who is the founding executive director  of the Colorado Student Leaders Institute.

Contact Joey Bunch at joey.bunch@coloradopolitics.com or follow him on Twitter @joeybunch.

Colorado Politics senior political reporter

Joey Bunch is the senior correspondent and deputy managing editor of Colorado Politics. His 32-year career includes the last 16 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and he is a two-time finalist.

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