Lopez to focus on election security, accessibility in new term

Safety a top priority


Incumbent Democrat Joan Lopez has been elected to a new term as Arapahoe County clerk and recorder after defeating Republican challenger Caroline Cornell, according to the unofficial election results. 

Reacting to the results, Cornell posted a message on Facebook on Nov. 9 saying, in part, that although the election did not go as she hoped, she was proud of the race she ran. 

“Joan Lopez, I wish you success. I sincerely hope that you take steps to be more responsive to the public, treat staff members with greater respect, and strive to be non-partisan in the administration of your office,” Cornell said in the post. 

During the Arapahoe County Democratic Party’s Election Night Party on Nov. 8, as the county’s early election results showed she was in the lead, Lopez said she wants voters to know that they will always have access and the right to vote. 

The clerk runs the elections process in Arapahoe County. The clerk’s office also records public documents, such as real estate records, and issues marriage and civil union licenses. It includes the county Division of Motor Vehicles, or DMV.

“Top priority is still: provide access. Access is so important to me,” Lopez said. “You have to have every voice heard, whether or not they have transportation.” 

During this election cycle, Lopez said she noticed a few areas that didn’t have enough access, including the area near East Florida Avenue and South Alton Street. She said while there was a ballot drop box close by at the Eloise May Library, there was not a close enough vote center.

Accessibility is especially important to Lopez given her upbringing, as she said she grew up without transportation. 

“My mom was legally blind, so she doesn’t drive. She’s a single mom,” Lopez said, emphasizing the importance of making it easier for people to get to the polls. 

Addressing accessibility issues was a priority for Lopez when she won the clerk and recorder race four years ago. In a previous interview with Colorado Community Media, Lopez said one of the first actions she took in office was to push for opening a voting center at Martin Luther King Jr. Library in northwest Aurora, which opened in 2019. 

This election cycle, Lopez said she didn’t expect a lot of threats. 

“I wasn’t expecting people to be so against mail-in voting. I mean, I was shocked,” she said. 

In late October, Colorado Community Media reported on threats Colorado county clerks were receiving, including Lopez, who said she got a threatening, handwritten letter in which the writer claimed to know where she lives. 

On election night, Lopez said she had some calls regarding election safety concerns. In one incident, she was told a person was yelling at someone who was dropping off their parents’ ballots. 

There was a report of someone filming a voter and making them really nervous, Lopez said.

“I just hope that people aren’t fearful of voting,” she said. “I mean, this has been a tough couple of years.”

Lopez said on the eve of the presidential election, someone came to the clerk’s office and filmed voters on each side of the ballot box with open carry to intimidate voters. 

“And that’s where the Vote Without Fear Act came, so I testified for that,” she said, referring to the 2022 Colorado House Bill that prohibits a person from openly carrying a firearm inside or within 100 feet of a polling location, central count facility, or ballot drop box.

Lopez said she is worried safety concerns will get worse next year. 

“All we can do is keep passing laws to maybe keep people safe,” she said. “The county clerks don’t pass laws, but we can also support, we can also come out and testify.” 

It’s important for people to voice their opinion, Lopez said, explaining she always tells her daughter change cannot happen if people are quiet. 

“The good thing about it is, just, the amount of support — I mean, all over the country,” she said.

She said she was floored to see people throughout the U.S. running advertisements for her.  

“People really came out for the county clerks, I think,” she said. “People were excited. They want to make sure that our elections are secure.” 

Reflecting on what efforts she would like to see that may help, Lopez said investing more money toward increasing voter access and potentially more security. 

“We do have to make sure that everyone is not intimidated,” she said.

Joan Lopez, Arapahoe County, Arapahoe County clerk, Election 2022, Arapahoe County election


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