Colorado lawmakers advance online voting for the blind over objections from election security experts, Homeland Security, Justice Department | Pat Poblete/Colorado Politics

A House panel on Thursday advanced a bill that seeks to allow blind or otherwise print-impaired voters to privately and independently vote by returning marked ballots online. But a host of federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, warned in a report to states ahead of last fall’s election the bill’s provisions would amount to a “high-risk” endeavor that could compromise election integrity by allowing hackers to manipulate ballots and election results “at scale.” Senate Bill 21-188 was carried through the Senate by Sen. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, where it passed on a near-party line vote. In the House, the legislation is sponsored Democratic Reps. Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge, and David Ortiz, a Littleton Democrat who now uses a wheelchair after a helicopter crash while serving in Afghanistan left him with little muscle control below his waist. The proposal seeks to build on legislation that allows voters with disabilities to access a ballot online, which Danielson championed in 2019. Under Danielson’s Senate Bill 19-202, a ballot can then be marked, printed and returned, which allows voters with disabilities to cast a ballot privately and independently. After being signed into law in May 2019, Danielson said Secretary of State Jena Griswold quickly implemented the legislation and it has largely been successful, save for one hiccup: few voters with disabilities have a printer.

Full Article: Lawmakers advance online voting for the blind over objections from election security experts, Homeland Security, Justice Department | Elections | coloradopolitics.com

Colorado: Federal judge in Denver dismisses class-action suit against Dominion, Facebook | Joey Bunch/Colorado Politics

A U.S. magistrate in Denver dismissed a class-action lawsuit that originated in Colorado against Dominion Voting Systems, Facebook and others accused of conspiring to cost Donald Trump last November’s election. U.S. District Court Magistrate N. Reid Neureiter issued a ruling less than 24 hours after arguments to dismiss the case Wednesday afternoon, because the plaintiffs who say they were harmed by unfair election tactics have the same problems as dozens of other failed cases have had: lack of standing. Denver lawyer Gary Fielder filed the class-action lawsuit against the election software company at the center of conspiracy theories about a stolen election, in addition to Facebook, its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, as well as a nonprofit that helped local governments prepare for last November’s vote. The suit asked not to turn over the results of the election but to penalize the defendants $1,000 for each of the more than 160 million voters, adding up to more than $160 billion. Neureiter said the suit was a  “generalized complaint” — meaning it was based on information that hasn’t been proven — and that it lacked enough facts “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face” and failed to “plausibly allege violation of constitutional rights.”

Full Article: Federal judge in Denver dismisses class-action suit against Dominion, Facebook | Elections | coloradopolitics.com

Colorado: Pueblo County clerk posts photos of 2020 ballots for election integrity | Sara Wilson/The Pueblo Chieftain

Pueblo County is posting images of most ballots from the 2020 general election online as a way for citizens to self-audit ballots to verify election results, following an election season rife with debunked claims of fraud in the voting process. “This year because of all of the disinformation — and I want to be specific, not misinformation but knowingly-told lies about the election — I made the decision that I wanted to put it all on my website,” Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert Ortiz said. “I thought this was the perfect opportunity to show the integrity of our elections.” Ortiz, a Democrat elected to the clerk position in 2006, testified to the State Auditor’s Board in January that he would make ballot images available online. As of April 8, that promise is met. Puebloans can view the 89,155 vote records in two places: on a Google Drive that Ortiz set up or through a pilot program from Dominion Voting System, which requires an email registration. On the Dominion site, users can filter the ballots by precinct, district, electoral contest and whether or not the ballot was adjudicated. Those records show the original ballot and how the machine counted it so viewers can verify that if a voter bubbled in President Joe Biden’s name, the machine recorded it that way.

Full Article: Pueblo County clerk posts photos of 2020 ballots for election integrity

Colorado county clerks release ballot images from 2020 election | Andy Koen/KOAA

The Republican and Democratic county clerks in El Paso and Pueblo Counties want voters in their communities to be confident in the results of the 2020 presidential election. On Thursday, both officials made digital copies of every voted ballot from the election available to the public. Clerk Chuck Broerman in El Paso County, a Republican, said he and his staff are still answering questions five months later from voters who believe fraud occurred. He doesn’t want those doubts to discourage people from participating in future elections. “People get a little disheartened and they don’t vote, and that’s not good for our representative democracy,” Broerman said. “It’s always best when we have more voices that are heard.” He explained the Dominion Voting Systems used in Colorado are audited before and after each election to make sure they count the ballots accurately. The risk-limiting audit which occurs after each election compares a sample of paper ballots with the images of those ballots recorded by the machines and the corresponding vote tallies that were reported. Dominion was heavily criticized by the Trump campaign in lawsuits filed in various states after the election. Clerk Gilbert Ortiz in Pueblo County, a Democrat, hopes to quiet criticism from skeptics by being transparent and releasing the documents.

Full Article: County clerks release ballot images from 2020 election

Colorado Senate panel approves bill pitting election security experts against disability advocates | Pat Poblete/Colorado Politics

Democrats on a Senate panel on Tuesday advanced a bill that would allow voters with disabilities to return voted ballots online, a provision that pitted disability advocates against election security experts. Senate Bill 21-188 from Sen. Jessie Danielson seeks to build on legislation the Wheat Ridge Democrat championed in 2019 that allows voters with disabilities to access a ballot online. Under Danielson’s Senate Bill 19-202, a ballot can then be marked, printed and returned, which allows voters with disabilities to cast a ballot privately and independently. After being signed into law in May 2019, Danielson said Secretary of State Jena Griswold quickly implemented the legislation and it has largely been successful save for one hiccup: few voters with disabilities have a printer. … But the bill received pushback from election security experts such as C. Jay Coles, the senior policy associate with Verified Voting, who told lawmakers “multiple cybersecurity experts have concluded that internet voting currently is unsafe.” Coles pointed to, among other things, a 2018 National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report that concluded: “We do not, at present, have the technology to offer a secure method to support internet voting.”

Full Article: Senate panel approves bill pitting election security experts against disability advocates | Legislature | coloradopolitics.com

Colorado: Election Conspiracy Theorists Focused On One Dominion Employee. His Life Will Never Be The Same | Bente Birkeland/Colorado Public Radio

Eric Coomer has been living in hiding since one week after the presidential election ended. He’s director of product strategy and security for Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems, which has found itself at the center of numerous conspiracy theories about election theft. President Donald Trump has falsely claimed that Dominion machines fraudulently switched votes to Biden. And some of Trump’s supporters have come to focus on Coomer as the supposed mastermind behind a plot to steal the election. “I actually am in fear for my safety,” Coomer said recently, speaking by video chat from a secret location. “I’m in fear for my family’s safety. These are real, tangible things coming out of these baseless accusations.” He said in addition to his own information, the personal addresses of everyone from his parents and siblings to his ex-girlfriends have been posted online. Some have also received threatening letters. “I’ve been threatened more times than I could even count. Whether it’s the standard online trolls, voicemails that are left almost on a daily basis, being called a traitor to this country. I can’t even begin to describe what effect this has had on my life,” he said. Dominion provides election equipment and software to 28 states, including the majority of the equipment used in the swing states on which Trump has focused most of his post-election ire. The company gamed out all sorts of election problem scenarios, but it wasn’t on anyone’s radar that it — and its employees — could become the target of threats. While Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud have been a near constant presence in recent weeks, Coomer says the first threat directed at him personally took him by surprise. It came five days after the election.

Full Article: Election Conspiracy Theorists Focused On One Man In Colorado. His Life Will Never Be The Same | Colorado Public Radio

Colorado lawmakers clash over election integrity hearing | Patty Nieberg/Associated Press

A top legal advisor to President Donald Trump was among those testifying at a Tuesday hearing called by Republican state lawmakers to look into any irregularities concerning Colorado’s mail-in voting system — a system praised by both major parties as among the nation’s safest and responsible for the largest turnouts in the U.S. in 2020. The reason for and timing of the Legislative Audit Committee hearing, called by Republican committee chair Rep. Lori Saine of Weld County, befuddled many, coming a day after the Electoral College certified Joe Biden’s presidential win. Saine told fellow lawmakers its goal was to put to rest “any doubt” about election irregularities in the state. “The election belongs to the people of Colorado and that question deserves our utmost focus and attention,” she said. Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign, implored the panel to investigate Dominion Voting Systems, reiterating debunked claims that the company’s voting machines software altered the result of the presidential election. Elections officials have repeatedly denounced statements questioning Colorado’s election integrity, and Dominion has refuted claims about any deleted or changed votes. Secretary of State Jena Griswold noted in written testimony that Dominion software has been widely used in Colorado since 2015 and, in some districts, going back to the 1990s.

Full Article: Colorado lawmakers clash over election integrity hearing

Colorado: 8-hour, Republican-led hearing on election integrity ends without of evidence widespread fraud | Jesse Paul/The Colorado Sun

There was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Colorado presented during a day-long, legislative hearing held by Republicans Tuesday on the state’s election integrity. But there was plenty of bipartisan praise for Colorado’s voting systems and processes. “We are the gold standard for voting in our country,” said El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman, a Republican. “Everybody wants to be like Colorado.” The Legislative Audit Committee hearing, held at the Colorado Capitol with some lawmakers participating virtually because of the pandemic, was initiated by Republican members of the state House, namely Rep. Lori Saine, the panel’s GOP chairwoman. It happened under the backdrop of persisting, baseless claims from President Donald Trump about mass voter fraud that cost him reelection. Saine, who lives in Firestone, told The Colorado Sun before the meeting that she called for it after hearing concerns from constituents. “You’ve got certain states with election integrity issues,” she said last week. “But did it happen here in Colorado? It’s really kind of on us to help answer that question. Did it happen here? Did we have widespread fraud?” The resounding answer from county clerks, Republican former Secretary of States Scott Gessler and Wayne Williams, and even Jenna Ellis, a top attorney for Trump, was no.

Full Article: 8-hour, Republican-led hearing on Colorado’s election integrity ends without of evidence widespread fraud – The Colorado Sun

Colorado GOP demand for probe ofDominion Voting Systems part of “debunked conspiracy theories,” House speaker says | Saja Hindi/The Denver Post

A group of Colorado House Republicans is calling for a third-party investigation into the state’s election software and voting machines along with the formation of an election integrity commission, despite a lack of evidence for any claims of large-scale voter fraud. Colorado election officials — including Republican county clerks — have pointed to the state’s proven track record of election security that has served as a model for other states, and federal judges have dismissed allegations by President Donald Trump that the election was stolen from him. But seven Colorado House Republicans and one representative-elect penned a letter Monday to outgoing House Speaker KC Becker calling for an audit of the Dominion Voting Systems software used by the state and creation of a special committee. Becker quickly dismissed the request, accusing the Republicans who wrote the letter of trafficking in “debunked conspiracy theories.” The letter was signed by Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, of Highlands Ranch; Rep. Kim Ransom, of Douglas County; Rep. Dave Williams, of Colorado Springs; outgoing Minority Leader Patrick Neville, of Castle Rock; outgoing Rep. Perry Buck, of Windsor; Rep. Shane Sandridge, of Colorado Springs; outgoing Rep. Steve Humphrey, of Severance; and Rep.-elect Ron Hanks, of Penrose. “Free and fair elections are foundational to keeping our Republic and voters must have confidence in the election system,” they wrote in the letter. “The committee through educational hearings and sworn witness testimony from experts can help uncover any fraud or weaknesses in Colorado systems to help restore faith in the election process.”

Full Article: GOP demand for probe of Colorado’s Dominion voting system part of “debunked conspiracy theories,” House speaker says

Colorado: Jefferson County GOP asks for an election audit, expressing doubts about Dominion Voting Systems | Meghan Lopez/The Denver Channel

The Jefferson County GOP is calling for an audit of the 2018 and 2020 elections, expressing concerns with the Dominion Voting Systems technology the county and 61 others across the state use in elections. The criticism is part of growing national rhetoric against the company, even as states certify their election results. Most publicly, during a press conference last week, President Trump’s personal legal team made a series of unsubstantiated claims against the company, many of which have since been debunked. On its website, Dominion Voting Systems dedicated its main page to clearing up some of the misinformation that has been going around, insisting that the systems are secure and have been certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The company told Denver7 that the allegations are so serious its employees are being harassed and threatened, there are protests at its Denver headquarters and that one employee even had a bounty put out on them.

Source: Jefferson County GOP asks for an election audit, expressing doubts about Dominion Voting Systems

Colorado takes one final step to verify the vote count. Here’s how an audit works. | Austin Lammers/Coloradoan

Confirming the legitimacy of an election in Colorado begins with the roll of a dice. On Monday morning, employees of the Secretary of State’s Office convened to roll a 10-sided dice 20 times, creating a sequence of numbers, or a “seed,” to determine which ballots the counties must check to confirm the accuracy of the 2020 election. It’s the first step in what’s called a risk-limiting audit — a procedure that compares votes on paper ballots with results collected by vote-counting machines to scan for discrepancies and correct erroneous tabulations. The public could even watch a livestream of the meeting, one more way the state promotes transparency. The counties finished counting votes Friday. The audit results are due to the state by Nov. 24. “Every election administration in the U.S. has a goal of conducting a secure, safe and accurate election,” Colorado’s Deputy Election Director Hilary Rudy said. “A risk-limiting audit helps confirm that that did, in fact, happen.”

Full Article: Colorado election integrity: How vote counting is audited

Colorado: Gov. Jared Polis Reacts To Trump’s Tweet About Delaying Election: ‘Undemocratic, Outrageous And Insulting’ | Anica Padilla/CBS Denver

Gov. Jared Polis said November’s General Election will be held on schedule, after President Donald Trump floated the idea of delaying it. The president expressed concerns about mail-in voting and questioned whether the election should be delayed until people can vote “securely and safely.” “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. During a news conference on Thursday afternoon, Polis was asked about the president’s tweet — and fired off a rapid response. “Look, our Democracy will not become a casualty of this pandemic, and any suggestion to the contrary is undemocratic, outrageous and insulting to the constitutional principles of a representative Republic that our nation is built on,” Polis stated.

Colorado: Official details plans for penetration testing of election systems | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

The Colorado secretary of state’s office said Tuesday it is partnering with the security firm Synack to conduct penetration tests of its election systems ahead of the presidential vote. In an interview with StateScoop, Trevor Timmons, the chief information officer for Secretary of State Jena Griswold, said Synack’s team of white-hat hackers will poke and prod the agency’s election infrastructure, including the statewide voter registration database and Griswold’s office’s main website. “We need to know [vulnerabilities],” Timmons said. “We’ve got enough time that if they found anything we’d be able to respond to them.” Timmons said Synack will be focusing on anything that’s “internet-connected.” While Colorado is one of five states where nearly all voters cast ballots by mail, the penetration tests will also include electronic poll books at physical precincts for people who choose to vote in person. Colorado has used penetration testers to review its election systems before, Timmons said, including services offered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other private companies. But he also said that Synack, which has offered its services to election officials in previous cycles, is providing these tests on a pro bono basis as part of an expansion into the election space.

Colorado: Secretary of State institutes permanent election rules, tweaking administrative procedures | Michael Karlik/Colorado Politics

Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s office has permanently adopted several election rules first proposed in May to adjust the administration of voting centers and account for the emergency closure of polling places. Among the changes, county clerks would be able to close or alter the hours of any polling site, but would need to relocate operations to a backup facility if the closure would drop the number of polling places below the minimum required by law. Clerks must also notify tribal nations that border their jurisdictions of their right to have a voter service and polling location within their borders. There is guidance for verifying the registration status of voters, and instructions for clerks to maintain a supply of provisional ballots equal to 10% of the turnout in the previous election where similar offices were on the ballot. Finally, the rules contain provisions related to the testing of equipment and the risk-limiting audit, which validates the accuracy of election results. Griswold’s office noted that some of the changes are to comply with state law governing mail ballot elections and federal rules for addressing voters whose eligibility cannot be immediately determined.

Colorado: Voters set state primary record for turnout, with more than 99% using mail ballot | Blair Miller/The Denver Channel

Colorado voters produced the largest turnout in a state primary in history during Tuesday’s 2020 primary election, with more than 99% of votes cast on mail-in ballots, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said Wednesday. As of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, 1,577,347 ballots had been returned – meaning that turnout was about 45% of current active voters – the highest ever in a non-presidential primary in Colorado and easily topping the 2018 state primary turnout of 37.6%, in which 1,171,088 ballots were cast. That year was the first in which unaffiliated voters could participate in primary elections in the state. While ballots are still being processed and military and overseas ballots are still coming in, Griswold said that 99.3% of ballots so far were either mailed back or returned via drop boxes. She again lauded Colorado’s system. “In midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Colorado just set a record turnout for a state primary. A total of 99.3% of voters cast a mail ballot, and there were not lengthy lines or wait times reported at in-person voting centers,” Griswold said in a statement. “Despite misleading attacks, disinformation, and attempts to make vote-by-mail a partisan issue, Colorado’s election proves that mail ballots are the key to accessible voting during this health crisis.”

Colorado: State’s mail-in voting infrastructure a boon during COVID-19 | Griffin Swartzell/Colorado Springs | Colorado Springs Independent

Colorado will hold its primary elections on June 30. But during a pandemic, nothing happens normally. On April 7, Wisconsin’s presidential primary elections drew national attention, presenting a model for how states could handle the process of democracy safely. According to an NPR report, turnout there was respectable for a presidential primary — 34 percent, about the same as the state’s turnout in 2008. But Wisconsin’s turnout was only as high as it was because 71 percent of those who voted did so by absentee ballot, a massive leap from 27 percent in November 2016 and 21 percent in November 2018. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that in Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin, only five of a planned 180 polling places opened that day. Vox reported that, after initially agreeing to a typical in-person election, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers pushed to delay the election or extend the deadline for absentee ballots due to how suddenly the pandemic came on. The former was overturned by the state legislature and supreme court, and the latter was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. And the Wisconsin State Journal reports that at least 67 Wisconsinites tested positive for COVID-19 after voting in person or working at the polls that day, though it’s hard to say for certain these people were infected because they were voting.

Colorado: MIT study: voting app that Denver used could be hacked | Matt Mauro/KDVR

An app that some Denver voters used in 2019 has significant security issues, according to a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The study that was released Thursday said hackers could potentially block or change a vote and steal a voter’s personal information from the app Voatz. The Denver Elections Division used Voatz in the May and June municipal elections for about 300 military and overseas voters. The Division did not report any security issues. “We were very happy with it,” said Director of Elections Jocelyn Bucaro. Burcaro said voter turnout increased significantly with Voatz. Traditionally, military members and others who are overseas and vote electronically would have to print a ballot, sign an affidavit, scan the documents and email them. Voatz allowed the voters to submit their ballots by just using a smartphone. Also, the division used a three-step process to ensure the app and votes were secure. “We are really grateful for the MIT researchers and releasing that report because we’ve been wanting more security review of the Voatz application and other vendors in this space,” Bucaro said.

Colorado: County clerks ask federal, state officials for cash | Charles Ashby/Grand Junction Sentinel

Colorado’s county clerks are asking state and federal lawmakers to send money, lots of it. In a letter Wednesday to the state’s two U.S. senators — Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Cory Gardner — the Colorado County Clerks Association asked them to ask U.S. Senate leaders to make sure they include funding to ensure the state’s and nation’s election systems are protected from cyber attacks, among other things. “Despite extraordinary progress by state and local election officials to improve election security, upgrade equipment and implement audit procedures, critical vulnerabilities remain,” wrote Janice Vos Caudill, Pitkin County clerk and current association president. “Although Colorado leads the nation in secure election practices — for example, Colorado is the first U.S. state to require risk-limiting audits after each election — there is much more Colorado can do with additional federal money,” she added. “This funding needs to be earmarked specifically to harden local government systems in a comprehensive way.”

Colorado: Secretary of State’s Office begins post-election ballot audit | Michael Karlik/Colorado Politics

Secretary of State Jena Griswold on Friday directed county clerks to begin the audit of a random selection of ballots after this month’s general election. A press release said that this risk-limiting audit, the only statewide one in the country following most elections, provides a “high statistical level of confidence that the outcome of an election is correct and reflects the will of the voters.” Colorado conducted its first statewide audit in 2017, covering all counties that used machines to tally their votes. Two counties, Jackson and San Juan, do not perform an audit because their ballots are hand counted. The secretary of state’s office randomly chose the ballots for each clerk to review using a 20-digit number, generated from multiple rolls of a 10-sided die. “If what the audit board reports matches how the voting system tabulated the ballots, the audit concludes,” Griswold’s website explains. “If there are discrepancies, additional ballots are randomly selected to compare until the outcome has been confirmed. If the wrong outcome was reported eventually all of the ballots will be examined and a new outcome will be determined.”

Colorado: Operating system update causes upset for county clerks | Christian Burney/La Junta Tribune-Democrat

Otero County Clerk and Recorder’s Office is lagging in some areas after an update last Wednesday to the operating systems of their office computers. Elections Clerk Lynda Scott said at the Monday Board of County Commissioners meeting that after the state assisted the clerk and recorder’s office in updating their computers from Windows 7 to Windows 10 they began experiencing severe slowdowns with computer systems in the clerk’s office and with county vehicle and licensing services. Scott said she was told by state officials that Windows 10 requires a higher bandwidth and that is the source of their technical issues. Scott also added that the state had been aware of Windows 10′s bandwidth requirements and that at least a heads up about the issue would have been appreciated before the install happened last week. “We’re doing the best we can to let them know we are working on it,” said Scott. “State informed us today that they are looking into Comcast, possibly, to put us on that (service provider). But it may be two weeks or a month or more before we know for sure.

Colorado: Garfield County election judges stay busy in early November | Chelsea Self /Post Independent

On and leading up to Election Day, anyone who enters Room 101 B in the Garfield County Courthouse must sign in and out with a bright pink or green pen – intentionally different colors than the blue or black ink voters use to fill out their ballots. It’s just one of the many steps taken to ensure all votes are counted – and that the count is done with integrity. “We have all of these checks and balances,” Lois Wilmoth said. Wilmoth, who was born and raised in Glenwood Springs, has served as a mail-in election judge for over a decade.  Monday, Wilmoth meticulously verified that the number of envelopes that entered room 101 B matched the amount of ballots that would eventually run through the scanning machines. “Once you have a problem, you stop. Nobody goes ahead anywhere until you find the ballot that is missing,” Wilmoth said.

Colorado: The public, election officials may be kept in the dark on hacks around the U.S. But not in Colorado. | Colleen Long and Christina A. Cassidy/The Associated Press

If the FBI discovers that foreign hackers have infiltrated the networks of your county election office, you may not find out about it until after voting is over. And your governor and other state officials may be kept in the dark, too. There’s no federal law compelling state and local governments to share information when an electoral system is hacked. And a federal policy keeps details secret by shielding the identity of all cyber victims regardless of whether election systems are involved. Election officials are in a difficult spot: If someone else’s voting system is targeted, they want to know exactly what happened so they can protect their own system. Yet when their own systems are targeted, they may be cautious about disclosing details. They must balance the need for openness with worries over undermining any criminal investigation. And they want to avoid chaos or confusion, the kind of disruption that hackers want. The secrecy surrounding foreign hacks is not a hypothetical issue. The public still doesn’t know which Florida counties were breached by Russian agents in the 2016 election. Rick Scott, Florida’s governor in 2016 and now a U.S. senator, was not told at the time and didn’t learn most of the details until this year. And the threat to electoral systems is real. Federal officials believe Russian agents in 2016 searched for vulnerabilities within election systems in all 50 states. And the nation’s intelligence chiefs warn that Russia and other nations remain interested in interfering in U.S. elections.

Colorado: Secretary of State’s QR code election security measure adopted | Teresa L. Benns/Del Norte Prospector

According to a Sept. 16 news release on the Colorado Secretary of State’s (SoS) website, Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced that Colorado will stop using ballots with QR codes, a marking used to track packages and other materials pictured above. The removal of QR codes from ballots will increase the security of vote tabulation and ensure voters can accurately verify that their ballots are correctly marked. With foreign countries actively trying to exploit voting vulnerabilities, this is a first-in-the nation added security measure. Marilyn Marks, who advocates for voting integrity nationwide, came to Saguache County in 2011 to investigate the irregular county election held in 2010. During that time, she also monitored an election held in Chaffee County where the QR code question was first raised. “Chaffee ballots are identifiable by both the voter and the government,” Marks said in an Aug. 9, 2012 Center Post-Dispatch article. (QR) codes on the ballot can be traced back to the voter in what Marks says is a very sophisticated process that could not have been detected by most voters or watchers.

Colorado: Colorado the First State to Remove Bar Codes from Ballots | Andrew Westrope/Government Technology

Since learning the scope of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, state and federal officials have been vocal about the need to secure America’s next elections. For many jurisdictions, that might mean less technology rather than more, and resisting pressure from voting-tech vendors to buy expensive solutions where pen and paper is more secure. This week, Colorado took the lead as the first state to require all ballots to be tabulated using only the marked ovals, as opposed to QR (quick response) codes, or bar codes in which the voter’s choices are encoded. According to a news release from Secretary of State Jena Griswold, the use of ballot-marking devices had created a situation in which votes tabulated by QR codes could not be verified by the human eye. Serena Woods, a spokeswoman for Griswold’s office, explained that while Colorado’s in-person voters would get a printed out summary of their choices, they couldn’t verify that the QR code accurately reflected those. While there had been no specific incidents of QR codes being tampered with, Woods said, a nefarious actor could theoretically program a tabulation machine to misread QR codes, or reprogram ballot-marking devices to print inaccurate codes.

Colorado: Denver Offers Blockchain Voting to Military, Overseas Voters | The Denver Post

The city of Denver will allow thousands of voters to cast their ballots with a smartphone application this year. The pilot program is one of the first U.S. deployments of a phone-based voting system for public elections — but it will only be available to military members and voters living in other countries. The city has invited all of its international voters — about 4,000 people — to use the app in the May 2019 election. The idea of digital voting has been met with skepticism from some elections security experts, but Denver officials say it could make life easier for a limited set of voters. “This pilot enables us to offer that convenience for our military and overseas citizens who have the most difficult time voting and participating in the democratic process here at home,” said Deputy Elections Director Jocelyn Bucaro.

Colorado: Democrats push changes to presidential electors | Associated Press

Following Donald Trump’s 2016 victory over an opponent who won 3 million more votes, Colorado’s Democrat-controlled Legislature is fast-tracking legislation to join other states in picking the president based on the national popular vote. The House State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee sent the bill to the full House on a 6-3 party line vote late Tuesday. Republicans fiercely oppose the bill , which has cleared Colorado’s Senate. They argue it subverts an Electoral College that the Founding Fathers created to ensure smaller states don’t get trampled when it comes to choosing the president. Colorado would join 11 states and the District of Columbia in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The campaign was launched after Democrat Al Gore lost the 2000 election to Republican George W. Bush despite winning more votes.

Colorado: How Colorado voting became a cybersecurity leader long before Russians tried to hack it | TechRepublic

Colorado was one of 21 states targeted by Russian operatives during the 2016 election. But unlike many others, the state has spent years implementing top-tier cybersecurity measures and audits to prevent hackers from entering its systems and interfering with the election process. Colorado receives top marks in the three most important election security categories, according to a February report from the left-leaning Center for American Progress comparing the election security of all 50 states:

Adhering to minimum cybersecurity standards for voter registration systems
Carrying out elections with paper ballots
Conducting robust post-election audits

… In 2017, Colorado became the first state to carry out mandatory risk-limiting post-election audits, which are widely considered the gold standard, according to the Center for American Progress. Risk-limiting audits involve manually checking a sample of ballots, and providing statistical evidence that the election outcome is correct. They have a high probability of correcting a wrong outcome, according to the US Election Assistance Commission. A risk-limiting audit could lead to a full manual recount if there is not enough evidence to prove that the reported outcome is correct, the commission stated.

Colorado: 61,000 Adams County voters are still missing ballots (and other voting problems around Colorado) | The Colorado Sun

A quarter of voters in Adams County — a key 2018 battleground in Colorado — have yet to receive their ballots because one of four trucks carrying them to be mailed didn’t make it to a postal processing center last week. About 61,000 Adams County ballots — mostly for residents in Thornton, Brighton and Aurora — had yet to be sent as of Tuesday afternoon. “We’re waiting on the truck to pull up,” U.S. Postal Service spokesman David Rupert said. Julie Jackson, spokeswoman for Adams County Clerk and Recorder Stan Martin, said it was unclear why the ballots on the truck weren’t unloaded and ended up being returned to a secure location. She said the office is still investigating to find out what happened.

Colorado: A Safe Place for Elections | State of Elections

Colorado is known for more than just picturesque mountain views and crystal-clear rivers. The Centennial State touts some of the best education, healthcare, and the best state economy in the nation. To add to this impressive list of achievements, Colorado has been christened as the safest state in the nation to host an election. Colorado’s impressive new title come from two different sources: The Washington Post and Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen. Over the last decade, Colorado took several steps forward in election security to ensure the integrity of its elections. First, Colorado implemented a first-of-its-kind risk-limiting audit. In 2013, the Colorado legislature codified this new auditing technique (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-7-515 (2013)), which was required for the 2017 elections and all “primary, general, coordinated, or congressional vacancy elections thereafter.” A risk-limiting audit is a form of statistical analysis that requires officials to match certain paper ballots with the electronic voting machines’ interpretation of the ballots. This ensures that the machine read the ballot correctly.

Colorado: Election prep summit included topics like cybersecurity threats and fake news | TheDenverChannel

It’s being billed as war games, election style. National leaders in cybersecurity, including the Secretary of Homeland Security, were in Colorado Thursday night to learn how to protect our ballots from bad actors. Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State, Wayne Williams, hosted election officials from all over the state to prepare for the November elections.  A battleground state, Colorado elections can come down to a few votes, which is why protecting the integrity of every one of them is of utmost importance. “Every vote is important. We want to make sure that voters know their votes matters, and it’s going to be counted right,” said Williams.