2017 Annual Report Denver Clerk & Recorder Debra Johnson

A large swath of the US viewed the totality of the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. Here at the Clerk and Recorder's Office, our accomplishments in 2017 eclipsed all previous years. This annual report highlights our favorite projects.

With the incredible growth in Denver, we've seized opportunities to lead the way in elections, records preservation, marriages and bringing our services directly to you.

And we've had a great time doing it!

Did You Know: The path of the solar eclipse, where the moon completely covered the sun and the sun's tenuous atmosphere - the corona - was seen from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina.

EFFICIENCY: More people got down the aisle faster than ever before in Denver. People loved dropping off their ballots while never having to get out of their car.

We understand that there are only so many hours in a day, and we work hard to help you get the most out of each of your days. By offering more services online, mailing ballots directly to your home and increasing our social media presence, we offer you choices to do what you need when you need to do it. Regular business hours mean less and less today than they did yesterday. So make hay while the sun shines!

Marriage Licenses & Recording

In July, we were the first agency in the City to launch online appointment scheduling. This innovation helped couples get down the aisle even faster. And by filling out their application online before coming into our office, the average wait to pick up their license was 35 seconds! That 35-second wait was as long as 45-minutes in 2011. Our busiest month for marriage licenses was August with 985 marriage licenses issued. Congratulations and best wishes for a long and happy marriage!

By the Numbers - Clerk and Recorder Division

98 percent Customer Satisfaction

By the Numbers - Elections Division

VSPC vs Mail - what they can do at home

More voters than ever chose to vote in the comfort of their own home and then drop their ballot in a 24-hour ballot box, at a Vote Center, or drive, bike or walk it back to a drive-through ballot drop-off. For those who vote in person, they can vote on a paper ballot or on a tablet. Every single vote cast in Denver ends up on a piece of paper.

Did You Know: A solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the Sun and Earth and blocks all or part of the sun for up to about three hours, from beginning to end.

TRANSPARENCY: Using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook Live, we brought voters behind the scenes of our ballot processes. Our online foreclosure auctions opened the bidding pool to people from across the country and the world.

While the eclipse plunged much of the country into darkness, here in Denver, we shone the light on our processes and programs. 2017 brought clarity to campaign finance, officer and appointee gifts, as well as opening up foreclosure auctions to people everywhere.

Campaign Finance, Lobbyist and Officer Disclosures

In 2017, the Clerk and Recorder and Director of Elections spearheaded the modernization of Denver's campaign finance ordinances. Stakeholders and the community helped direct changes that increase transparency through more frequent reporting, add reporting for independent expenditures and electioneering communications, and add fines for filers who miss deadlines.

Clerk Johnson worked with City Council, government oversight groups and the City's Ethics Board to increase transparency around lobbying efforts and gifts to city officials. The public can view these disclosures on the Clerk's websites.

Online Foreclosure Auctions

We were the first county in Colorado to take our auctions online. Bidders can now sit at home - wherever home is - and participate in the auctions. The sun never sets on our pool of bidders. More than 3,000 bidders are from as far away as Ukraine and as close as Arizona.

Fewer houses sold to the public than in previous years because of the strong real-estate market. But those 50 sales resulted in almost $3.6 million in Excess Funds. That's an average of about $72,000 per property. Excess Funds is the difference between what is owed and what the home sells for. We returned more than $2.7 million in Excess Funds to foreclosed-upon homeowners in 2017.

Did You Know: Mysterious shadowy figures that wriggle like snakes have been known to appear on surfaces near the ground seconds before and after a total solar eclipse. The shadow bands — sometimes called shadow snakes — are thin and wavy lines that can be seen moving on plain-colored surfaces, like white cars.

ACCESSIBILITY & CONVENIENCE: We brought the vote to you in a new, mobile voting center! Photographing records means you can now search even more of Denver's history online, any time.

We believe in government transparency, free and fair voting, and that you want to know what's happening in local government. We also believe that we have the responsibility to meet you where you live. Our new mobile voting center can meet you at the Broncos game so you can drop off your ballot that we sent you in the mail.

Haul & Votes

The Denver Elections Division's innovative Mobile Vote Center debuted on Tuesday, September 26, 2017, at Civic Center Park for National Voter Registration Day. The mobile unit offers the chance for voters to register to vote, update their records and even vote on a tablet! Voters can also drop off their mail ballots and receive an "I Voted" sticker.

Text Auto Responder

With our text system, SMS to Case, uses key words from voter questions to send an auto-response. We also have an outstanding Customer Service team to answer the more tricky questions. Keywords like "register" sent a link to the online voter registration system; "VSPC" brings up an interactive map of Voter Service and Polling Centers and 24-hour ballot drop-off boxes, or "TRACE" gets voters a link to BallotTRACE.

3,186 text inquires were sent to the Elections Division.

98.5 percent (3,137) were resolved by an auto responder.

Online Records

Now you can look up 40 more years of City history online anytime, day or night. In 2017, we digitized indexes for real estate records and marriage licenses. So now you can find the book and page in a matter of seconds. No more sitting in a dark room with dusty books!

Check out the amazing preservation work we completed in 2017. There are more than 11 million records searchable online.

Did You Know: The Sun’s huge! Our daytime star’s diameter is approximately 400 times larger than that of the Moon. What a coincidence that it also lies roughly 400 times farther away. This means both disks appear to be the same size.

ACCURATE: Every vote counts - and we make sure it counted.

Risk Limiting Audit

The Denver Elections Division conducted our first ever Risk Limiting Audit (RLA) in 2017. The RLA is a post-election audit that ensures that ballots were properly tabulated by having randomly selected ballots reexamined by a bipartisan team. The narrower the margin in a race, the more ballots that are randomly selected for review. Our successful audit ensures the integrity of the elections process.

Security and Technology

Election Administration is now considered a critical infrastructure issue for the nation in this era of cyberthreats. Director of Elections Amber McReynolds and Denver's Chief Information Officer Scott Cardenas participated in a roundtable discussion in Washington D.C., hosted by the Election Assistance Commission. They detailed the many steps Denver takes to protect the integrity of the voting process and protect sensitive voter data.

Did You Know: For the 2017 eclipse, the longest period when the moon completely blocked the sun from any given location along the path was about two minutes and 40 seconds. The last time the contiguous U.S. saw a total eclipse was in 1979. Thanks to NASA for all these cool facts!


We love our customers, and they tell us that they see government employees in a whole new light.

Our customers gave us a 98 percent "Excellent" rating and say the nicest things.

"The world would be a better place with more people like you."

To the Moon and Back

Each day, our amazing staff work hard to make you feel special as you vote, get your marriage license or record the deed to your home. We are focused on providing great customer service to every Denver resident.

One of the most emotionally challenging jobs we have is administering the foreclosure process. One woman who was going through foreclosure worked closely with public trustee clerk Eddie Gurrola through the process. Because of Eddie's guidance, she was able to get her home out of foreclosure. She sent Eddie this arrangement to thank him for sharing his knowledge and helping her through the Cure process.
Ballot Operations Administrator Drake Rambke got a nice note from a student named Andres who was one of the participants in Denver City Councilman Chris Herndon's Northeast Denver Leadership Week. NDLW was one of the many tours Drake conducted in 2017.

Planetary Alignment

The Office of the Clerk and Recorder is an independent agency, but Denver is stronger because we partner with so many other City agencies to do great work. Without their collaboration and support, our jobs would be that much harder. In 2017, our annual Valentine's Day Celebration was a real city affair as agencies pitched in gifts for the 100 loving couples married in our office that day. And for the November election, we partnered with Denver Day Works to hire several homeless individuals.

Election Judge Coordinator Lizzie Littlepage was recently honored for her work with Denver Day Works, the program that puts individuals experiencing homelessness to work. Nine Denver Day Works workers assisted in the ballot preparation room during the November election and the partnership was featured in a national elections trade publication.

Our days were made brighter through special partnerships with: Mayor Michael B. Hancock's office, Auditor Tim O'Brien's office, City Council and staff, Office of Human Resources, Budget and Management Office, Technology Services, Denver Human Services - Denver Day Works, Motor Center, Department of Public Safety, City Attorney's Office, Parks and Recreation and Denver Public Library.

iGO Innovator Award
iGO Excellence in County government
Move Mountains from the Colorado Clerks Association
US Army Certificate of Achievement
Professional Practices Award
Clearie Award for Innovation
Eagles Award for Technology
Eagles Award
ESRC Democracy Award
Cyber Security Leadership & Innovation Award

Did You Know: There will be no more total solar eclipses in about 600 million years, scientists say. Because of the moon’s slowly increasing orbit, NASA believes the moon will have moved far enough away from Earth in that timeframe that it will no longer be big enough to entirely cover the sun.

At the End of the Day

We take fiscal responsibility very seriously. At the end of the day, we sleep soundly knowing that we've worked hard to provide great service to you - the Citizens of Denver - as cost effectively as we can.

Budget & Revenue

We are one of the few revenue-generating agencies in the City. We projected our 2017 revenue to be $6.3 million. In fact, we generated more than $7.1 million. That's a 13 percent increase over our projection.

We've led the way in Colorado - and across the nation - in technological innovations. But we believe that a human touch is still important. So while we have more technology and less staff than we did seven years ago, 70 percent of our planned expenses are on personnel. The remaining 30 percent goes towards the day-to-day operations and election sites.

Thank you for letting us be a part of some of your most special days. Thank you for being a great part of the City and County of Denver.

Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson

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