Colorado: Trumpist county clerk barred after leak of voting-system passwords to QAnon | Jon Brodkin/Ars Technica

A Colorado judge on Wednesday barred Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters from supervising elections due to the leak of voting-system BIOS passwords to QAnon conspiracy theorist Ron Watkins. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Mesa County registered elector Heidi Jeanne Hess had petitioned the court for a ruling that Peters and Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley are unable to perform the functions of the Designated Election Official for the November 2021 election. The “court determines that the petitioners have met the burden of showing that Peters and Knisley have committed a breach and neglect of duty and other wrongful acts,” Mesa County District Court Judge Valerie Robison wrote in Wednesday’s ruling. “As such, Peters and Knisley are unable or unwilling to appropriately perform the duties of the Mesa County Designated Election Official. The court further determines substantial compliance with the provisions of the code require an injunction prohibiting Peters and Knisley from performing the duties of the Designated Election Official.” In August, Watkins released photos of information on Dominion’s Election Management Systems (EMS) voting machines, including an installation manual and “BIOS passwords for a small collection of computers, including EMS server and client systems,” as we reported at the time. While Watkins, a former 8chan administrator, was trying to prove that Dominion can remotely administer the machines, the documents actually showed “a generic set of server hardware, with explicit instructions to keep it off the Internet and lock down its remote management functions.” Peters, who promoted Trump’s conspiracy theory that voting machines were manipulated to help Joe Biden win the 2020 election, “‘holed up’ in a safe house provided by pillow salesman and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell” when the FBI began investigating her, according to an August 19 Vice News article. Her location was described as a “mystery” for a while, but she appeared at an event in Grand Junction, Colorado, last month.

Full Article: Trumpist county clerk barred after leak of voting-system passwords to QAnon | Ars Technica

Colorado: Hearing Set To Begin In Defamation Lawsuit Filed By Former Dominion Voting Employee Against Trump Campaign | Rick Sallinger/CBS Denver

With its U.S. base in Denver, Dominion Voting has been the target of claims that it was involved in election fraud, which it has denied and challenged in lawsuits. In particular, the vitriol has been directed at now-former Denver employee Eric Coomer quoted as saying, “Don’t worry Trump’s not going to win. I made f…ing sure about it.” That quote comes from Joe Oltmann of Parker who says he overheard it on a left-wing group’s call. He told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger, “I’m not afraid of this lawsuit. I never lied about anything. I lied about nothing.” The former president’s son, Eric Trump, republished the quote on social media. Other media picked it up including the Gateway Pundit represented in the suit by attorney Randy Corporan.

Full Article: Hearing Set To Begin In Defamation Lawsuit Filed By Former Dominion Voting Employee Against Trump Campaign – CBS Denver

Colorado: Mesa Clerk was given detailed instructions on how to back up election files | Charles Ashby/Grand Junction Sentinel

Before Colorado Secretary of State and Dominion Voting System technicians came to Mesa County in May to conduct a software update of its elections system, Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters was given a step-by-step guide on how to back up election files and told just who could be present during that computer upgrade. In an April 30 email to all county clerks in the state obtained by The Daily Sentinel, Jessi Romero, voting systems manager in the Secretary of State’s Office, laid out the details on how to prepare for its “trusted build” software update, something the state and county clerks have done once a year since 2005. In it, Romero wrote that “only authorized staff, county elections staff and Dominion staff may be present during trusted build,” and asked each clerk to agree to the terms of the upgrade to preserve the security of election equipment, which included limiting the number of people who could be present, all of which had to have passed criminal history background checks. Peters agreed to those terms, but only after state officials declined Peters’ request to allow others into the office to view that upgrade, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. “The onsite installation of the trusted build is not the time for members of the public, representatives from the local parties or county officials other than the clerk and recorder to observe or ask questions about the process or any of the disinformation being pushed about the election,” Romero wrote. “If, when we arrive or during the process, there are others present beyond Dominion, county election staff that have been authorized and the clerk and recorder in the area where the trusted build will take place, we will move on to the next county,” Romero added. “It will then be the responsibility of the clerk and recorder to ship equipment to Denver so it may be upgraded at a time that works for Dominion and the (SOS office).” Those computer upgrades have to be done in person because county election systems are not accessible via the internet, the Secretary of State’s Office says.

Full Article: Clerk was given detailed instructions on how to back up election files | Western Colorado | gjsentinel.com

Colorado Judge to rule on Mesa County Clerk case next month | Charles Ashby/ Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

A planned hearing today to discuss any potential disagreements in the facts behind the case of whether Mesa County Court Tina Peters should be temporarily barred from conducting this fall’s election has been canceled. Instead, District Judge Valerie Robison will decide the case between Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Peters and her deputy, Belinda Knisley, solely on the legal briefs that have been filed to her court, and issue her ruling by Oct. 13, possibly before. That’s several days after the first day that county clerks can mail ballots to voters, which they can do on Oct. 8. Robison’s decision will be based on multiple briefs and exhibits filed by Peters’ attorney, former Secretary of State Scott Gessler, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and Mesa County attorney Todd Starr over the past week. While Gessler argues that Peters was merely doing her job and should remain doing it, Weiser said Peters and Knisley committed extreme violations of election security protocols that make them both untrustworthy to conduct the upcoming election. Starr, meanwhile, simply argues that the county commissioners had little choice but to appoint former Secretary of State Wayne Williams to oversee the county’s elections when Griswold issued an order last month to appoint Mesa County Treasurer Sheila Reiner to head it. In those briefs, Gessler admits that Peters had allowed a non-county employee access to sensitive election equipment, saying she was within her rights to bring in a computer expert.

Full Article: Judge to rule on Peters case next month | Western Colorado | gjsentinel.com

Colorado elections supervisor embraced conspiracy theories. Officials say she has become an insider threat. | Emma Brown/The Washington Post

In April, employees in the office that runs elections in western Colorado’s Mesa County received an unusual calendar invitation for an after-hours work event, a gathering at a hotel in Grand Junction. “Expectations are that all will be at the Doubletree by 5:30,” said the invite sent by a deputy to Tina Peters, the county’s chief elections official. Speaking at the DoubleTree was Douglas Frank, a physics teacher and scientist who was rapidly becoming famous among election deniers for claiming to have discovered secret algorithms used to rig the 2020 contest against Donald Trump. Frank led the crowd in a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and spent the next 90 minutes alleging an elaborate conspiracy involving inflated voter rolls, fraudulent ballots and a “sixth-order polynomial,” video of the event shows. He was working for MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, he said, and their efforts could overturn President Biden’s victory. Being told to sit through a presentation of wilddebunked claims was “a huge slap in the face,” one Mesa County elections-division employee said of the previously unreported episode. “We put so much time and effort into making sure that everything’s done accurately,” the employee told The Washington Post, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation. Peters, the elected county clerk, had expressed sympathy for such theories in the past, the employee said. Over the course of the past month, in a lawsuit filed by the state’s top elections official, Peters and her deputy have been accused of sneaking someone into the county elections offices to copy the hard drives of Dominion Voting Systems machines. Those copies later surfaced online and in the hands of election deniers. The local district attorney, state prosecutors and the FBI are investigating whether criminal charges are warranted.

Full Article: Tina Peters embraced conspiracy theories. Officials say she has become an insider threat. – The Washington Post

Colorado: Mesa County Clerk Fights to Keep Her Job in New Court Filing | Bente Birkeland/Colorado Public Radio

Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, who is embroiled in an election security scandal, has denied wrongdoing and requested to remain in her role overseeing elections this fall. Her attorney said Peters was well within her legal right to share information about the county’s Dominion Voting Systems equipment with a non-employee during an annual system upgrade. Data from the machines were featured in screenshots shared by QAnon supporters and released by the right wing website Gateway Pundit, by those eager to cast doubt on the results of the 2020 presidential election. A court filing in response to an effort to remove Peters from overseeing elections in Mesa, said the leak of information was not Peters’ intent, but rather she was trying to preserve records and to better analyze how the state conducted system updates. “Unfortunately, there was an unauthorized release of information on one or more publicly available web sites,” said a filing in District Court in Mesa County from attorney Scott Gessler.  In the filing, Gessler, a Republican and former Colorado secretary of state, said the decision by current Secretary of State Jena Griswold to file a lawsuit to remove Peters from overseeing this fall’s election as a result was “wholly disproportionate” and violates Colorado law, “which vests local control over elections in a locally-elected official.”  Mesa county’s district attorney and the FBI are investigating allegations that Peters gave an unauthorized person access to the Dominion election management software and passwords, but no criminal charges have been filed against Peters or anyone else in the dispute.

Full Article: Mesa County Clerk Fights to Keep Her Job in New Court Filing | Colorado Public Radio

Colorado: Cost of counting ballots multiple times could mount | Charles Ashby/Daily Sentinel

It will take weeks after the Nov. 2 election, and cost thousands of more dollars, before Mesa County elections officials will complete extra recounts and audits of ballots to ensure that the initial count is accurate, county officials were told Thursday. To help instill voter confidence in the county’s election system in the wake of local, state and federal investigations into possible wrongdoing by Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and some members of her staff, the county is implementing four steps to help verify results of the fall election. The first will be the normal process of running ballots through newly installed Dominion Voting System tabulation machines, which will provide immediate, albeit unofficial, results of the election on Election Day. Following that, the county plans to run the same ballots through Clear Ballot voting machines, and then do a hand count of them. The final step — other than the normal risk-limiting audit that is routinely done after any election — will be to place digital versions of those ballots online so anyone can do their own count.

Full Article: Cost of counting ballots multiple times could mount | Western Colorado | gjsentinel.com

Colorado Secretary of State outlines disturbing online threats against her office | Sloan Dickey/The Denver Channel

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold is no stranger to threats online. She says since the election in 2020, threats have been a constant. Fueled by lies alleging stolen elections and widespread voter fraud, the attacks against Griswold and her staff have not only sustained, she says they have increased. “Department of Homeland Security has alerted us about physical threats. The FBI has alerted us,” Griswold said. She said there is still no office dedicated to vetting the authenticity of the threats. “It’s falling on Secretary of States offices to comb through literally thousands of threats,” Griswold said. The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office shared some of those threats with Denver7. The comments were posted to Griswold’s personal and public social media accounts and sent in direct messages. The messages make direct and gruesome threats against her life.

Full Article: Griswold shares violent threats against her office

Colorado: Mesa County deputy clerk formally charged with burglary, cybercrime | Blair Miller/Denver Channel

Formal charges were filed Thursday against Mesa County Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley in connection with her allegedly being at a county building and using her boss’s computer while she is on administrative leave. Knisley, 66, was charged with second-degree burglary, a class 4 felony, and cybercrime — unauthorized access, a class 2 misdemeanor. She said little at her court appearance, and her attorney requested a preliminary hearing or arraignment in the case. Judge Matthew Barrett ordered a review hearing be held in the case on Sept. 30. The 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office reiterated Thursday that the charges are separate from the office’s ongoing criminal investigation into election security breaches involving Mesa County’s voting equipment. No arrests have been made in that case, the district attorney’s office said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also conducting an investigation. Knisley turned herself in on Sept. 1 after a warrant was issued for her arrest in the case in which she faces charges. Knisley was put on administrative leave with pay by the county’s human resources director on Aug. 23. According to an affidavit, on Aug. 25, count officials found Knisley at a county office – which she is prohibited from entering while she is suspended – and allegedly tried to use County Clerk Tina Peters’ laptop to access the county computer network.

Full Article: Mesa County deputy clerk formally charged with burglary, cybercrime

Colorado county election official allegedly pressured employees to not cooperate with investigation into security breach | Paul P. Murphy/CNN

County administrators in Colorado have opened an investigation into an election official after employees complained she was pressuring them not to cooperate with a joint local, state and federal criminal investigation into an election system security breach discovered last month, a source told CNN. Deputy clerk Belinda Knisley of the Mesa County Clerk and Recorders office has been placed on paid administrative leave due to a “confidential personnel matter,” CNN previously reported. A source in the Mesa County government tells CNN that the “confidential personnel matter” refers to an open county human resources investigation in which Knisley is accused of pressuring fellow clerk employees — her subordinates — not to cooperate with the criminal investigation into the breach. When Knisley caught wind of the HR investigation, the source said that Knisley also then pressured employees not to cooperate with it. Knisley was arrested on Wednesday, charged with felony burglary and misdemeanor cyber crime. As part of her bail conditions, Knisley agreed to have no contact with any clerk employees.

Full Article: Colorado county election official allegedly pressured employees to not cooperate with investigation into security breach – CNNPolitics

Colorado secretary of state sues to stop Mesa County clerk from overseeing elections | Justin Wingerter/Denver Post

Colorado’s secretary of state filed a lawsuit Monday to remove the clerk of Mesa County from her role overseeing elections because the clerk is under criminal investigation for allegedly allowing a security breach of election equipment. Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, filed the lawsuit in Mesa County District Court. Griswold can unilaterally require supervision of county elections, as she did in Mesa County earlier this month, but needs a judge’s order before taking the additional step of preventing county clerks from overseeing elections. Monday’s lawsuit is the latest fallout from an alleged security breach at Mesa County’s election office. Griswold believes that Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, a Republican, allowed an unauthorized man into a secure room in May. Images of the county’s election equipment passwords and hard drives were later posted online and presented at a conspiracy theorist conference that Peters attended. The alleged breach is under investigation by the FBI and the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office, with assistance from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. Griswold’s office also investigated the matter and determined that Peters likely allowed the breach to occur May 25. The lawsuit seeks to appoint Wayne Williams, Griswold’s Republican predecessor, as Mesa County’s top election official for the November elections and give Sheila Reiner, Peters’ Republican predecessor, the position of elections supervisor. On Monday, the Mesa County Commission approved a contract that will pay Williams $180 per hour to do the job. Reiner is currently the county treasurer.

Full Article: Jena Griswold sues to prevent Tina Peters from overseeing elections

In this Colorado county, election conspiracies led to a real-world leak | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Election conspiracy theories are threatening to cause real-world cyber vulnerabilities. Exhibit A: the county clerk of Mesa County, Colo. allegedly leaked images of Dominion-brand voting machine hard drives and passwords online. The stranger-than-fiction story began when some sensitive election information from Mesa County appeared on a website aligned with the QAnon conspiracy theory. Other information appeared at a conspiracy-theory-heavy cyber symposium hosted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, where Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters (R) joined Lindell onstage. Now Peters is in hiding and being investigated by the FBI and the Colorado secretary of state’s office for allegedly surreptitiously gathering the information and sharing it with Lindell and others. The secretary of state’s office claims that before the information was released, Peters turned off video surveillance and brought an unauthorized person into the secure room where the election equipment is stored. It’s the most significant example yet of someone charged with election security aligning with conspiracy theorists. Officials in Colorado and at the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said the release of the hard-drive images will not create “a significant heightening of the election risk landscape at this point.” But election security experts are more concerned, warning that the images could make it far easier for someone with access to that brand of voting machines to surreptitiously load them with malware that could alter how votes are recorded. If you’re a bank robber, it would be helpful to have a blueprint of the bank vault,” Philip Stark, a statistics professor who focuses on election security at the University of California at Berkeley, told me. “This democratizes the ability to hack an election. It lowers the barrier.” 

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: In this Colorado county, election conspiracies led to a real-world leak – The Washington Post

Colorado: Mesa County commissioners vote to stay with Dominion to replace decertified voting machines | Robert Garrison/Denver Channel

Mesa County commissioners voted Tuesday to stay with Dominion Voting Systems to replace the voting machines that were decertified after an alleged security breach. The unanimous vote to stay with the voting software and hardware company came after about an hour of public comment, which at times became heated. The overwhelming majority of speakers that participated in the public comment portion of the meeting were in favor of ditching Dominion, many of them citing disproven voter conspiracy theories as the reason to replace the voting company with Clear Ballot, a competing voting software and hardware company, or hand counting. Despite the contentious meeting, commissioners Janet Rowland, Scott McInnis, and Cody Davis approved the measure to extend the county’s voting system and managed system agreement with Dominion Voting Systems, stating, in part, because of the cost associated with switching to Clear Ballot. A contract with Clear Ballot would cost the county over $570 thousand for the next two years, as opposed to around $194 thousand to stay with Dominion, commissioners said during the meeting. Another concern for commissioners was an approaching deadline imposed by the secretary of state’s office of Aug. 31, when the county must have new election equipment installed. “That’s the reality. We have to have something in place,” McInnis said.

Full Article: Mesa County commissioners vote to stay with Dominion

Colorado Republican official accused after voting system passwords are leaked to right-wing site | Kim Bellware/The Washington Post

A bizarre security breach of a rural Colorado county’s voting system has in a matter of days escalated into a criminal probe of the clerk’s office, a ban on the county’s existing election equipment, and heightened partisan divides over election-fraud claims. Footage that showed passwords related to the county’s voting systems was surreptitiously recorded during a May security update and published last week on a far-right blog, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) said Thursday. Griswold determined Mesa County cannot use its existing equipment for its November election. Griswold alleged Mesa County Clerk Tina M. Peters (R) allowed the breach. A spokesperson for Mesa County confirmed a criminal probe headed by the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office was underway but said it was still in the early stages. During a Thursday news conference, Griswold said Peters falsely passed off a man as a county employee and misled her office about his background check status. Days before the breach, she said Peters directed her staff to turn off the video surveillance of the voting machines, which she said has remained off until just recently.

Full Article: Colorado official Tina M. Peters accused after voting system passwords leaked to GatewayPundit – The Washington Post

Colorado: Decertified election equipment could prove costly to Mesa County | Charles Ashby/Grand Junction Sentinel

Mesa County isn’t just on the hook for replacing all of its expensive election equipment, but also for up to $170,000 in money the Clerk’s Office received in COVID-19 aid, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. In the wake of Thursday’s announcement from Secretary of State Jena Griswold to decertify the county’s election equipment because of a security breach that Griswold said Clerk Tina Peters had aided, the county may have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace that equipment. Some of the money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stability Act, known as the CARES Act, approved by Congress and signed by then-President Donald Trump in March 2020 went to purchasing some of the now-decertified election equipment. And some of that equipment is brand new. A year ago this month, the Mesa County Board of Commissioners approved three grant applications that Peters and her Elections Division had applied for: $70,000 for six electronic ballot marking tablets from Dominion Voting Systems and ballot drop boxes, $69,996 for 22 additional Dominion voting tablets, and $10,000 for a new drop box and security equipment in Palisade. All of that equipment came from CARES Act funding, and all of the requests came from Peters, who now is publicly challenging whether Dominion voting equipment is reliable. Because that equipment was paid for through grants provided by Griswold’s office, some of it may have to be paid back to the state, and the county will have to use its own money to replace them.

 

Full Article: Decertified election equipment could prove costly to county | Western Colorado | gjsentinel.com

Colorado: ‘The stuff of which violent insurrections are made:’ Federal judge punishes lawyers for 2020 election lawsuit | Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post

A federal judge in Colorado has disciplined two lawyers who filed a lawsuit challenging the 2020 election late last year, finding that the case was “frivolous,” “not warranted by existing law” and filed “in bad faith.” In a scathing 68-page opinion, Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter found that the lawyers made little effort to corroborate information they had included in the suit, which argued there had been a vast national conspiracy to steal the election from President Donald Trump. He particularly called out the duo, Gary D. Fielder and Ernest John Walker, for quoting Trump in their legal filing, which cited a presidential tweet that claimed without evidence that voting machines manufactured by the company Dominion Voting Systems had “deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide.” Neureiter called that allegation “highly disputed and inflammatory” and said the lawyers made no efforts to verify it. The two lawyers filed the case as a class action on behalf of 160 million American voters, alleging a complicated plot engineered by Dominion; Facebook; its founder Mark Zuckerberg; his wife, Priscilla Chan; and elected officials in four states. They had sought $160 billion in damages. The case was dismissed in April, but Neureiter ruled that the attorneys had violated their ethical obligations by lodging it in the first place and by peppering their motions with wild allegations that they had made little effort to substantiate. Legal rules prohibit attorneys from clogging the court systems with frivolous motions or from filing information that is not true. Calling the suit “one enormous conspiracy theory,” Neureiter ordered that the duo must pay the legal fees of all the individuals and companies they had sued — 18 separate entities in all — as a way to deter future similar cases. Neureiter ordered the defendants to compile records showing how much time they had spent on the case and their typical billing rates to determining how much the two lawyers will owe.

 

Full Article: Federal judge sanctions Colorado attorneys over 2020 election lawsuit: ‘The stuff of which violent insurrections are made’ – The Washington Post

Colorado: Judge in Denver-based Trump case denies lawyers another hearing on sanctions | Premium | Joey Bunch/The Gazette

A pair of local lawyers scolded by a federal magistrate over their lack of evidence of a stolen presidential election last Friday asked for and were denied another hearing Wednesday afternoon. “To be blunt, that train left the station last Friday,” U.S. Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter said in his order denying the request. “The sanctions motions have been argued and submitted.” A class-action lawsuit filed in December by Denver lawyers Gary D. Fielder and Ernest J. Walker sought $1,000 a voter for more about 160 million voters, a total of roughly $160 billion, against Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems, Facebook and elected officials in four states, as well as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, on the list of 18 defendants plus “Does 1 to 10,000,” meaning yet unnamed defendants. The lawsuit accuses the defendants of conspiring to cost President Donald Trump last November’s election. Neureiter dismissed the original lawsuit in April, less than 24 hours after hearing arguments, citing the same procedural problem as dozens of similar failed voting integrity lawsuits: none of the plaintiffs could demonstrate how they were harmed, a dilemma lawyers call standing.

Full Article: Judge in Denver-based Trump case denies lawyers another hearing on sanctions | Premium | gazette.comFull Article: Judge in Denver-based Trump case denies lawyers another hearing on sanctions | Premium | gazette.com

Full Article: Judge in Denver-based Trump case denies lawyers another hearing on sanctions | Premium | gazette.com

Colorado: ‘A propaganda tool’ for Trump: A second federal judge castigates attorneys who filed a lawsuit challenging the 2020 results | Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post

Just before Christmas, two Colorado lawyers filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of 160 million American voters, alleging a vast conspiracy to steal the 2020 presidential election by the voting equipment manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems, Facebook, its founder Mark Zuckerberg, his wife Priscilla Chan and elected officials in four states — and asking for $160 billion in damages. The case was dismissed in April, but now a federal judge is considering disciplining the lawyers for filing a frivolous claim — sharply questioning the duo in a Friday hearing about whether they had allowed themselves to be used as “a propaganda tool” of former president Donald Trump. “Did that ever occur to you? That, possibly, [you’re] just repeating stuff the president is lying about?” Federal Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter asked the two lawyers, Gary D. Fielder and Ernest John Walker, during a hearing to consider sanctioning them. The two lawyers argued they had a good-faith belief that the election was stolen and did not trust government officials and others who affirmed that it was secure and that there was not widespread fraud. It was the second time this week that a judge dressed down lawyers who filed cases alleging fraud in the 2020 election, as the legal system grapples with how to hold accountable those who used the court system to spread falsehoods about the vote.

Source: ‘A propaganda tool’ for Trump: A second federal judge castigates attorneys who filed a lawsuit challenging the 2020 results – The Washington Post

Colorado’s county clerks recommend election-system changes after 2020 election | Sandra Fish/The Colorado Sun

Colorado’s county clerks are pushing for a host of changes to the state’s election system in an effort to quash conspiracy theories stemming from the 2020 election, including improvements to ballot-signature verification and making images of ballots available to the public. The Colorado County Clerks Association pitched the recommendations Tuesday to the Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission, a panel of county clerks, state election officials and interest groups. The 23-member commission, which advises the Secretary of State’s Office, received the proposals on Tuesday at the end of its meeting. Much of the meeting centered on persistent, false allegations of fraud in the presidential contest. Just two weeks ago, Secretary of State Jena Griswold implemented emergency rules preventing unauthorized third-party examination of election equipment. Those rules will be incorporated into a larger package of proposed permanent election rules recommended Wednesday. The recommendations and new rule come as some Colorado counties continue to receive demands from the public and advocacy groups for outside audits of the 2020 election, according to documents obtained by The Colorado Sun through an open-records request.

Source: Colorado’s county clerks recommend election-system changes after 2020 election

Editorial: No fraudits allowed: I banned fraudulent election audits so Colorado won’t become Arizona | Jena Griswold/USA Today

More than seven months have passed since Election Day. The Department of Homeland Security, FBIU.S. Cyber Command and Republican U.S. attorneys in the Justice Department have all said that the 2020 election was secure. Yet, some elected officials continue to discredit the election results for their own political advantage. With more than 400 voter suppression bills introduced across the nation and election misinformation reaching a crescendo, the urgency to save our nation and democracy is palpable. And now, on top of it all, we also have to contend with the emergence of “fraudits.” Fraudits, or fraudulent election audits, started in Arizona, where Republican legislators hired a partisan firm with no election experience to conduct a faulty, insecure audit. What they might not have realized were the associated costs. Giving an unaccredited, inexperienced company access to voting equipment creates major security issues, so much so that Arizona will likely need to spend more than $6 million to replace compromised voting equipment. But the costs aren’t the point. The point of the fraudit is to erode confidence in the 2020 election as a means to justify passing voter suppression bills, so that politicians get to pick their voters instead of the other way around. The fraudit is so popular that the Maricopa County arena hosting it is now a tourist destination for those seeking to replicate fraudits around the country and continue the attack on fair elections.

Full Article: No fraudits allowed: I banned fraudulent election audits so Colorado won’t become Arizona

Colorado Secretary of State Says County Clerks Facing Death Threats Amid Push for ‘Sham’ Election Audits | Jason Lemon/Newsweek

Some county clerks in Colorado have received death threats as supporters of former President Donald Trump call for election audits, according to the secretary of state there. President Joe Biden handily won Colorado over former President Donald Trump by a double-digit margin of more than 13 points. But Trump supporters in the western state appear to have been misled by the former president’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was “rigged” or “stolen” by Democrats—leading some to demand audits and recounts. “Some clerks are getting death threats,” Colorado’s Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, told The Colorado Sun newspaper for an article published Friday. “Some counties are being called to do these third-party, unsecure sham audits.” Griswold adopted an emergency rule this week limiting access to voting equipment in Colorado to officials who have passed background checks. In addition to passing a background check, the new rule only allows employees of a county’s elections office, the secretary of state’s office or a voting system vendor to access the equipment, as well as appointed election judges.

Full Article: County Clerks Facing Death Threats Amid Push for ‘Sham’ Election Audits, Says Colorado SOS

Colorado Secretary of State implements emergency rules to block Arizona-style audit | Pat Poblete/ Colorado Politics

Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold on Thursday implemented emergency rules aimed at thwarting future efforts at an Arizona-style “forensic audit” conducted by a third party. The new rules ban county clerks from allowing access to voting machines unless that person has passed a background check and is performing a task with authorization from either the county clerk or Griswold’s office.  The rules also require that person to be either an employee of the county clerk’s office or Griswold’s office, an election judge or an employee of a company that provides voting machines to that county. Voting machine manufacturers often make employees available to service and update machines. Those rules would block third parties, such as the Cyber Ninjas firm brought in by Republicans in the Arizona state Senate, from accessing voting machines. Violation of that new standard can result in “the prohibition or limitation on the use of, as well as decertification of, a county’s voting system or components.” The new rules also allow Griswold to investigate complaints of tampering with voting machines by installing uncertified components, breaking the chain of custody for a voting machine or repeated hardware failures or malfunctions. The findings of that investigation can result in the limitation, prohibition or decertification of a voting system.

Full Article: Griswold implements emergency rules to block Arizona-style audit in Colorado | Elections | coloradopolitics.com

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