One thing above all is required of the person in charge of Colorado’s varied and complicated elections: complete trust.
In the four years that Wayne Williams has been in charge of state elections as secretary of state, he’s earned the trust of voters and deserves another term at the helm.
We haven’t agreed with every decision Williams has made as the state’s top elections chief, but he’s shown unwavering fairness and aptitude for a job that can easily be a partisan bludgeon.
He took the reins of the office from a man who made it just that. Former Secretary of State Scott Gessler was a professional political operative for the Republican Party, and for four years he ran the office in that light. He absurdly pushed through an expensive and exploitive investigation into non-existent “rampant” voter fraud. It turned up next to nothing, other than Gessler’s partisan rancor.
Williams brought much needed transparency and candor to the job, immediately making it clear that accuracy, openness and accountability were the new norms for this vital office.
Williams has since made great strides in shoring up public faith in the state’s electoral process, knowing that it’s secure and accurate.
He has fairly doled out bad news equally to candidates across the partisan spectrum, mostly in regards to irregular petition signature collections and campaign contributions. It’s clear that staff of the secretary of state office are motivated by rules and regulations, not party politics.
Once a vocal critic of expanding the mail-ballot system, universal mail ballots have gone far in making voting easier, cheaper and more secure than ever before. Williams now boasts his efforts to ensure there are 24-hour drop boxes for mail ballots in every Colorado county but two.
Williams’ job will never be more important and more challenging than it will be in the next few years as federal investigators unravel more about the reported attempts of Russians and others to hack computer servers hosting U.S. voting systems. So far, Williams has kept a critical distance between his office and the Trump White House, which seems to work as hard at undermining faith in the U.S. election process as does the Kremlin.
His challenger, Jena Griswold brings little practical experience to the race, but a great deal of chutzpah. Griswold says she wants to push the state into enacting serious campaign finance reform, control the flow of “dark money” into state elections and expand automatic voter registration in Colorado. They’re excellent ideas, but they’re the job of the Legislature, not the secretary of state. Griswold offers a strong, activist voice for needed reforms, but that voice belongs on the floor of the state House and Senate, not the offices of the Secretary of State.
This position serves as an arbiter of rules and regulations created by legislators. Williams has shown repeatedly he can perform that job fairly and efficiently, we advise voters to choose him to lead the office during the next four years.