By Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul Lopez
It’s been a busy 2022 in the Office of the Denver Clerk and Recorder. The Elections Division recently wrapped up the Primary Election and certified the results on July 15.
Prior to the certification, we conducted our risk limiting audit and that audit had zero discrepancies. Even with the successful pre- and post-election testing outcomes, we don’t rest on our laurels and continue to foster an environment of continuous improvement.
We are in a cycle that occurs every four years where we will conduct five elections in the next 18 months, so preparations for the Nov. 8 General Election are well underway. These preparations include purchasing new equipment to streamline our signature verification process for mail ballots.
The Communications and Engagement Team I created continues to battle mis- and disinformation by being a source of trusted information and by meeting people face-to-face where they are regardless of what part of Denver they live in.
They are executing my vision of creating a culture of participation by reminding people how easy it is to vote in Denver, while letting those who can’t vote know they still have a voice in our democracy. Our Communications Manager joins several of his colleagues by earning his Certified Elections and Registration Administrator certification from the Election Center at Auburn University. It’s the top professional certification in the nation for elections professionals.
There are also big happenings in the world of campaign finance. We created Searchlight Denver, the most robust campaign finance transparency portal in use at the municipal level in the country. Searchlight allows you to see who contributed to which candidates or ballot issue committees, and how much has been contributed and raised for or against a candidate or issue.
We recently launched a second phase of Searchlight which will shed more light on lobbyist disclosures. My Recording and Public Trustee Division strives not just to maintain, but proactively enhance its services for a changing world.
In 2021, the office advocated and advised the Colorado General Assembly on House Bill 21- 1287 which permits marriage and civil union applicants to appear virtually before the clerk to receive a license. I had my team leverage existing technology, develop new policies and training to officially offer remote marriage to prospective couples. I also invested in a drop box to facilitate easier submission for property recording customers.
With the provisions of HB21-1287 set to expire on Dec. 31, 2022, the office will analyze the impact of these expanded services and provide data and feedback on the potential future of remote options to legislators. This will require continued collection of metrics, troubleshooting, and public input as the services continue to be integrated into day-today operations. I am constantly working to identify processes which will improve efficiency of operations.
In 2021, the office began exploring technology to automate the electronic signatory process for applicants and staff using virtual marriage services. We also analyzed feedback and researched online tools for customers to monitor transactions affecting their property and we continue development of user interfaces that allow enhanced searching of the databases. We have also executed an agreement with our database vendor to proactively identify and redact personally identifying information contained in records dating back seventy-five years.
In 2022 we unveiled FraudSleuth, a simple-to-use notification system which lets customers easily sign up for property alerts online. We also mapped and began work to process city e-Recordings completely electronically, while staffing has been increased to assist in the analysis and quality assurance of the data privacy screening contract.
I am the only Colorado county clerk who also serves as Public Trustee. While we haven’t seen the spike in foreclosure activity that was expected after the moratoria on federally backed mortgage products expired, we still make sure Denver homeowners are aware of their rights in the foreclosure process and that they have access to community organizations that may be able to help.
Our office is working on a new public facing property search portal that will go live toward the end of the year and our constituents can expect to see a newly renovated office that is scheduled to be completed on or before the end of the year.
Lastly, Councilmember Kendra Black and I convened a Ballot Access Modernization Committee to make sure our laws are keeping up with the times while not restricting people’s access to the ballot. We are examining everything from deadlines to the ballot information booklet. This effort is now in the City Council legislative process. Stay tuned.
As City Clerk and Recorder Paul Lopez serves as chief elections official for the city and county of Denver. He was elected as Clerk and Recorder in 2019.