Running two elections is always a challenge for Colorado’s county clerks, but this year they’ll be  operating a third one: the presidential primary.

Trying to find enough people to work for the presidential primary in March, the primary in June and the general in November — during a tight job market — was one of the issues discussed at the Colorado County Clerks Association’s three-day winter conference in Colorado Springs recently.

Clerks and their staffers turned out in record numbers for the conference, attending workshops dealing with their varied duties, including motor vehicle registrations and document recording — all areas requiring delivering customer service.

Otero County Clerk Lyn Scott, Bent County Clerk Lynda Moss and Crowley County Clerk Melinda Carter all were elected in 2018, after the veteran clerks they worked for retired after decades in the office.

“I feel I have a handle on elections, but my main concern is that we will be in the middle of handling an election all year,” Carter said. “That doesn’t give us a lot of time to focus on anything else, especially in a smaller office.”

Moss attended workshops involving motor vehicles and DRIVES, or Driver License, Record, Identification and Vehicle Enterprise Solution. DRIVES in 2018 replaced the state’s outdated driver’s license and titling and registration system; it has not been without its problems.

“We are still getting used to it,” Moss said.

Scott said her concern is the Risk-Limiting Audit that counties conduct after an election. Random ballots are tested to ensure that what a voter intended was correctly tabulated.

A workshop on the audit, she said, shows that some people “still seem to be confused on how some of it works.”

The conference with a day-long election security exercise, Election Preparedness for Infrastructure and Cybersecurity or EPIC. It was hosted by Secretary of State Jena Griswold, and intended to prepare county clerks and other election officials with various worst-case scenarios that could potentially impact the election process.

Carter said one of her concerns is the turnover in the Secretary of State’s office since Griswold took office in 2019.

A week before the conference, Griswold’s deputy secretary of state, Jenny Flanagan, announced her resignation. And Carter said she is particularly troubled at losing Josh Johnson, who worked in the voter-registration area of elections for 12 years. He is going to another state agency.

“Josh was so good at what he did as far as his work and training for us,” Carter said. “We all loved and trusted him.”

Also at the conference, La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Parker took over the CCCA presidency from Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill.

Each clerks conference has a theme and this time it was “Back to the Future.” During the banquet, when clerks and their staffs finally have a chance to let loose, a number dressed in ‘80s garb. Scrunchies held up their hair. They donned leg warmers.

“The highlight for me was the banquet,” Scott said. “I enjoyed watching the people who were brave enough to get up on stage and participate in the lip sync battle.”

The '80s was a different time. Colorado’s population at the start of the decade was 2.9 million. Eligible voters participated on Election Day at polling places.

Colorado now has 5.7 million people. Neighborhood polling places are gone, replaced by a mail-ballot system and vote centers. Voters can start voting 22 days before an election, and they can also register to vote on Election Day.

One thing hasn’t changed. The path to democracy still leads right to your county clerk’s door.