This story was amended to add information about election fraud in Douglas County from Clerk and Recorder Merlin Klotz.
By Mike McKibbin/NewsBreak Denver | June 10, 2022
[DOUGLAS COUNTY, COLO.] Sheri Davis thinks she's more than ready to head up the Douglas County Clerk and Recorder's office.
Davis is running against Kory Nelson in the June 28 Republican primary election. The winner will face Democrat Karen Lindberg Jefferson — unopposed in the primary — in the Nov. 8 general election. Current Clerk and Recorder Merlin Klotz is term-limited.
Davis has 24 years of experience in the clerk's office. In charge of the motor vehicle division since 2017, Davis has managed county elections for 12 years and oversaw the recording division for eight years.
Davis also has experience with state legislative committees that handle bills related to clerk's offices, so running for clerk was "the next logical step."
"I've worked under four different clerks and each one of them taught me something different," Davis said.
In her first 60-90 days, Davis said she would check in with office staff and ask citizens what they see as issues or problems in the office.
"I think we're on a good track, we're innovating ways to provide services to people," she added.
Davis pointed to feedback in the last year that found 97% of some 1,700 citizens were satisfied with the clerk's office.
Election process thorough, fair
Davis said she couldn't say if the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
"I know we're not doing anything inappropriate," she stated. "We follow state election laws, we have bipartisan teams every step of the way. After every election, we always debrief and we're always in a constant state of making course corrections were its needed or enhancing something else."
Davis said Nelson's plan to publicize election fraud cases was not something she considered.
"Those cases usually take a very long time to reach a disposition," she added. "I don't think that's something that had a lot of interest before (the 2020 election) and I'm not sure there is now among most people either."
Fraud case numbers small
Klotz called cases of election fraud in the county “amazingly minimal.”
“Out of 1.3 million ballots cast in Douglas County since I have been in office there are only a few that come to mind as election fraud,” he wrote in an email.
Klotz noted state statutes require clerks to turn over to the district attorney suspected fraud, unresolved signature, no signature, mismatched signature ballots and other such instances. He said while that total number may be several hundred in an election, actual fraud numbers are small.
“My elections manager tells me that in the last two years in total out of 324,000 ballots cast, the ‘fraud’ ballots could not have been more than eight,” he added.
Those included a person mailing a ballot then trying to vote at a polling place that the system caught and only the first vote was counted. Others caught by signature verification were of a woman signing her dead grandmother’s signature and several parents signing (and presumably voting) their college student’s ballot.
Klotz added these attempted multiple votes were not counted “due to good election processes so in nearly all cases further prosecution was not pursued by the DA.”
Ideas for change
Davis said if elected, she would offer citizens virtual appointments where staff in the motor vehicle or recording divisions could review paperwork and conduct transactions over the phone. That would help eliminate waiting in the office.
"We need to be in a position to respond and react like we did when COVID hit," she noted. "We were able to remain open when other counties (clerk and recorder offices) shut down."
Davis added virtual appointments could also help people conduct business if they can't get to the clerk's office due to a wildfire or other disaster.
Klotz has lobbied the county commissioners for higher salaries for employees in the office, which could have a 32% attrition rate by the end of the year. Davis said one thing she would consider to help office employees might allow some staff to work remotely.
"When you talk to these young families and young people and hear how hard it is for them to meet their needs, I want to see if there's more I can do so we retain the knowledge they have" about the office, she said. "Yes, we have to be able to compete on salaries with the private industry but it's quite expensive to recruit and train a person to be a competent employee."
Experience is key
Davis sees the main difference between herself and Nelson in her more than 30 years of management experience and her direct experience in the clerk's office.
"I have the relationships and the networking you need to work with others at every level," she said. "And I have the basic knowledge to really hit the ground running."