By Paul López, Denver Clerk and Recorder
First and foremost, thank you, Denver. It is my honor to continue serving as your clerk and recorder. In my role, I am the lead elections official and oversee other essential functions like issuing marriage licenses, recording land documents and administering bank foreclosures.
It is important that we innovate where we can, especially as processes like elections and records management become more technical and digital. We have replaced outdated ballot- sorting equipment which will increase efficiency and optimize signature verification and counting.
Currently, 84% of voters use secure drop boxes as the primary method of casting their voted ballots, and I am proud to have protected and expanded Denver’s reputation for accessible, fair and secure elections by increasing the number of ballot drop boxes across the city, well beyond the mandated minimum. During my first term, I launched the agency’s first Civic Engagement Team to work directly with community partners and neighborhoods to increase voter participation in every part of Denver.
Over the past four years, we have partnered with Denver Public Schools to promote civic participation among young people with the goal of registering every eligible high school student to vote. Our agency has also worked with Ball Arena, the Denver Broncos and more to get the word out.
With our partners at the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition and the Denver Sheriff’s Department, our agency has improved ballot access for eligible voters who are incarcerated, and our presence at activations like Mutual Aid Monday specifically engages those experiencing food insecurity and homelessness.
We regularly report to and collaborate with the Election Advisory Committee and the Acceso Board for accountability and support, so I encourage any interested community members to join one or both groups. There is no such thing as offseason in elections, and our agency is preparing for the Nov. 7 coordinated election for Denver Public Schools Board of Education.
Candidates will not be eligible for the Fair Elections Fund until municipal elections in 2027, so we likely will not see the same volume of candidates.
That said, I am hopeful that Denver voters engage in every election, not just the ones with lots of money or star power. Speaking of money, my agency modernized Denver’s campaign finance system and launched the Searchlight Denver database to make it easier for the public to track money spent in Denver elections, lobbying and other transactions.
Our agency administered the citizen-led Fair Elections Fund for the first time, and over 19,000 Denverites contributed to candidates — the most of these kinds of contributions ever in an election — signaling a high level of participation from our fellow neighbors and friends. As part of our agency’s due diligence, we will issue a report on the administration of the Fund later this year.
Summer is a busy season for marriages, and we are fully committed to protecting marriage equality for all of Denver’s lovebirds. We made it easier for couples to get married remotely, and our model has been adopted at the state level. For those wanting an in-person experience, we remodeled our counters and are excited to expand our languageaccess options.
Prior to my administration, many of the county’s physical records were not properly maintained or stored, and our partners in the Auditor’s Office have laid out the work plan to remedy this. Our agency is in the process of moving and preserving the city’s physical records, and we are digitizing over 18 million records dating back to the 1800s, so they are just a click away for every Denverite. I oversee the foreclosure process for Denver and continue to ensure public oversight and transparency.
Our top priority is empowering residents with information on this potentially intimidating process, and our team is focused on connecting residents to support. As a recession-era council member, I have seen how foreclosures impact Denver communities, and our agency closely monitors trends. My whole life I’ve worked block by block to empower our residents in every part of Denver and improve our city.
My agency has become more efficient, improved oversight of our operations and honored our fiduciary responsibilities, with a strong focus on creating a healthy, professional environment for our employees and serving our constituents honorably.
There is always more work to do. Denver is a vanguard of democracy, and together we can make Denver the best place to live and vote in the country.
Paul Lopéz is the clerk and recorder for the city and county of Denver.