Colorado Secretary of State: Republican Pam Anderson

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
GOP Secretary of State candidate Pam Anderson at a Republican Party of Colorado campaign event Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Denver.

Pam Anderson, a former Jefferson County Clerk who used to head the Colorado County Clerks Association, is running to be Colorado’s next Secretary of State.

Unlike some Republican secretary of state candidates across the country who have embraced false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, Anderson is running as a strong advocate for Colorado’s election system and has made pushing back against misinformation and conspiracy theories central to her campaign. 

She defeated indicted county clerk Tina Peters in the GOP primary and now hopes to oust incumbent Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold. Throughout the campaign, Anderson has pitched herself to voters as a career election official who will keep partisanship out of her work. 

“I will work as I have my entire career across the partisan aisle to build consensus whenever possible and not work to alienate people that disagree with me,'' said Anderson at a campaign event in Denver with former clerks from both political parties who are backing her bid.

Anderson has said she views secretary of state as a management job, and a big part of the role will also be helping to restore people’s trust in elections. 

“This office is about our shared American values, our values for free and fair and accurate elections that are easily accessible. And Colorado is a model for that.”

Anderson is the daughter of a police officer and said both her sisters work in law enforcement.

“I didn't become a cop, but my value for public service came from them,” said Anderson. 

Anderson was a city clerk in Wheat Ridge before she was elected to serve as the Jefferson County Clerk and later took over as the head of the bipartisan Colorado County Clerks Association. In that role she advocated at the state legislature for the bill that moved the state to an all-mail ballot system.

“I have a record on voting integrity and (am) the only one that has implemented and pushed for things like making sure every Colorado citizen votes on a voter verified paper ballot. I won an award for the work that I did on our election integrity audits,” she said at a forum earlier this year. 

Despite deep differences between the bases of both of their political parties, Griswold and Anderson do agree on the major policies that govern how the state’s elections are currently conducted. They both support universal mail ballots, early voting, and automatic voter registration. 

Anderson also supports two new laws the Democratic controlled legislature passed earlier this year. One aimed at protecting Colorado from insider election threats requires 24-hour video surveillance of voting equipment, increases training for local election officials, and adds penalties for security breaches. The other proposal, the Vote Without Fear Act, bans the open carry of firearms within 100 feet of a polling location.

“I think we need to make sure that the polling places are a very safe and sound place for people to exercise the right to vote,” said Anderson. 

Because Anderson has worked in elections for a long time and led the organization that represents all of the state’s county clerks, she is well known, and respected, in Colorado’s election world. 

“Pam is an election expert. We need a secretary that knows the details and has actually implemented them,” said Hilary Hall, a Democrat, who served three terms as the Boulder county clerk until 2018.

Hall said Anderson’s platform against election denialism is critical, because it highlights that Democrats aren’t the only ones sounding the alarm against those seeking to undermine democracy. 

“I think electing her also will send that message, that people in both parties do respect our democracy and we need to make sure that those are the ones who are leading us, and we don't have that everywhere,” said Hall. “She's going to stand up to anyone in any party and call them out on it.”   

But even though Anderson may be a familiar name to those who work in elections, she’s not as well known to the people who vote in them. Her campaign has featured a lot of door knocking and events, but little in the way of televised advertising, which is a key part of boosting a candidate’s name recognition. 

So far Anderson’s campaign has raised about $200,000, a far cry from Griswold, who has raised nearly $3.8 million. 

While election administration is the most visible part of the secretary of state’s job, the office also oversees licensing for businesses, charities and notaries. Anderson has said that should she win she would put a renewed focus on the management side of the job, reducing staff turnover in the office and making sure its response times to business and nonprofits are swift. 

Democrats including Griswold say even though Anderson is a booster for the election system, she has not done enough to distance herself from fellow Republican candidates who do believe the 2020 election was rigged. Anderson has attended events with Erik Aadland, the candidate for the 7th congressional district, and Lt. Gov candidate Danny Moore. Both have at times rejected the validity of the last presidential election.

Anderson’s campaign points out that she did call out Moore’s selection and said she never “actively campaigned with him.” 

“That's my life work, improving elections, access, the integrity of it, and the confidence that we can exercise our constitutional rights in a free and fair way,” she said. “And that's why I'm running.”