Former Cortez Mayor Sheek hands over leadership of State’s League of Women Voters – The Journal

Karen Sheek served a two-year term as chair of the board of the Colorado League of Women Voters. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)

“We must all work together to protect our democracy”

Karen Sheek, former mayor of Cortez and dedicated leader of the League of Women Voters of Montezuma County, recently completed a two-year term as league president in Colorado.

Sheek was the first representative from Southwestern Colorado to serve as league president.

“Usually they’re from the Front Range metro, so we thought it was a good thing to appoint someone from a rural area as far from Denver as possible,” Sheek said in an interview with The newspaper.

The LWV is a grassroots political network that promotes voter participation and rights, election security, and voter education on issues and candidates.

For more than a century, the women-led organization has worked to empower voters with more than 750 leagues in all 50 states.

The nonpartisan league publishes ballots containing information about local, state and national election candidates.

The pamphlet delves into the inner workings of voting questions and presents arguments for and against the questions that have been put to the vote.

“The right to vote is only part of it. You also need an informed electorate,” Sheek said. “The league does not support or oppose any candidate. On some voting issues, we research and take a stand.

Sheek completed her term at the 2022 League of Women’s Voters National Convention in Denver June 22-26. About 1,250 people attended, including 800 virtually.

“It was like a full-time job, and very rewarding,” she said of her time as a volunteer.

During her tenure as chair of the state board, Sheek helped address the challenges of conducting business during the pandemic, including making technological adjustments to stream meetings virtually. The hybrid format offering participation in both in-person and virtual meetings will continue, she said.

As president, Sheek has promoted the “gold standard” of Colorado’s secure election system and praised its “friendly” voter access.

The state’s election system offers online and in-person registration, a process available until the polls close.

Voters who forget to sign their ballot or who sign the wrong ballot are notified and have eight days to correct the error.

Election security and voter access protocols are the best in the country, Sheek said. Fraud prevention includes a robust ballot signature verification process and a system that tracks voter activity to prevent double voting.

After the polls close, risk mitigation audits extract batches of ballots to ensure that the physical ballot matches the results of the vote counting machines.

“Colorado’s electoral system should be universal nationwide. It is shocking that this is not the case. Voters in our state have great confidence that their vote will be accurately counted,” Sheek said.

As president, Sheek helped draft a position paper on Colorado’s election security. Colorado LWV lobbied for adoption by the National League of Women Voters, but it was not accepted this year.

It a national electoral standard that mirrors that of Colorado would revive electoral confidence in the country.

Election skeptics are “drumming” irregularities but without compelling evidence to convince the courts, Sheek said.

“We’re helping people in Colorado understand that we have a robust, secure, and reliable voting system in place,” she said.

Irene Tynes took over as president of the Colorado LWV. Sheek continues to serve on the state LWV board of directors as a liaison with local chapters.

Sheek will continue to serve on the Montezuma County LWV leadership team, alongside Eleanor Kuhl, Judy and Jack Schuenemeyer, Judi Foran and Betty Janes. The Montezuma County league has 25-30 members and is looking for more people to join.

“It’s not just women; men can also participate. We must all work together to protect our democracy with an informed electorate and the right to vote,” Sheek said.

Montezuma LWV’s ongoing goals include:

  • Promoting public use of the website offers nationwide ballot information.
  • Continue to hold government briefings with county and state officials and public groups.
  • Conduct a voter registration campaign for the upcoming midterm elections.
  • Develop information leaflets on the ballots to be distributed before the midterm elections.
  • Continue to hold business meetings in person and virtually. Information and notices of upcoming events are available on the league’s website and Facebook page.

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