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Colorado Sec. of State Limits Election Audits, While Raging Against 'Voter Suppression Laws' Elsewhere

AP Photo/Matt York

On June 17, Colorado's Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who is the Chair of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State (DASS), announced in a press release and over Twitter that she was limiting audits in her state of Colorado, while attacking Arizona in the process.

As the news release read:

Denver, June 17, 2021 - The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office today adopted emergency elections rules prohibiting third-parties from accessing voting equipment in the state of Colorado.

“Colorado’s elections are considered the safest in the nation, and we must remain steadfast in our dedication to security,” said Secretary of State Jena Griswold. “Along those lines, no third-party person or vendor will be permitted access to voting equipment in our state. We will not risk the state’s election security nor perpetuate The Big Lie. Sham audits have no place in Colorado.”

The new and amended rules, which have been implemented immediately, reinforce who can access state-certified voting systems. In order to access any component of a county’s voting system, a person must have passed a comprehensive criminal background check and be either an employee of the county clerk, an employee of the voting system provider, an employee of the Secretary of State’s Office, or an appointed election judge.

The rules further enable the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office to limit or prohibit the use of, as well as decertify, any voting systems component in the event of a break in its chain-of-custody or other hardware security compromises, such that its security and integrity can no longer be verified.

A third-party vendor with no election experience is currently performing a faulty, unsecure election audit in Arizona and calls for such sham audits have been spreading in other states. Several Colorado counties have been contacted by third parties offering to conduct audits.Colorado already administers post-election Risk Limiting Audits after every statewide election, which gives a statistical level of confidence that the outcome of an election is correct. For more information on Risk Limiting Audits, click here.

Many on Twitter reacted with suspicion, including and especially if they hadn't been suspicious before. 

Griswold has doubled down since then. 

In a June 23 piece for Democracy Docket, titled "The Battle for Democracy is On Your Ballot in 2022," Griswold predictably rants about the various election reform laws passed around the country, including in Georgia. 

The Colorado secretary of state, as in someone who does not have jurisdiction over Georgia, not only calls out the state by name, but members of Congress, including Rep. Jody Hice, a Republican who represents the 10th district of Georgia, a state which Griswold maligns.

Griswold only dials the fear mongering up further, with original emphasis:

Make no mistake: these conspiracy theorists want these secretary of state positions to try to bend democracy to their will. This is nothing more than an ongoing, coordinated effort to suppress voters and grab power. It’s undemocratic, un-American and just wrong. We cannot let this become our standard for elected officials.

We are 503 days out from the 2022 elections. While that seems far away, electing Democratic secretaries of state must be a priority if we are to continue protecting our democracy from relentless attacks.

In every state, we need to elect secretaries of state who believe in democracy and who believe every eligible American should be able to choose their elected leaders at the ballot box. That is how we protect our democracy. We cannot elect officials as chief election officers who spread lies in order to pass voter suppression laws to help their political allies.

We, the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, is fighting against these voter suppression bills, making our election systems more secure and accessible, and ensuring all voters can have their say at the ballot box. We are working day in and day out to push back against election lies and to stop these conspiracy theorists fromachieving higher office and dismantling democracy from the inside.

Voters need to pay close attention to secretary of state races, and elect leaders who will defeat these attacks and ensure every American can cast their ballot freely and fairly, regardless of where they live, the color of their skin or amount of money in their bank account. Democracy will be on the ballot in 2022.

Ultimately, the piece closes with a promotion of the DASS, which is hardly surprising considering how much of a campaign ad it read like.

On June 24, Griswold had an op-ed published with USA Today, "No frauits allowed: I banned fraudulent election audits so Colorado won't become Arizona." The subheadline declared: "We will not allow the pinnacle of democracy, our elections, to one used to spread disinformation and take away Americans' constitutional right to vote."

As a way to rant against election reform laws she despises, and explain her term of art, Griswold writes:

Yet, some elected officials continue to discredit the election results for their own political advantage. With more than 400 voter suppression billsintroduced 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.

While Griswold explains that "Fraudits are expensive and corrosive," she then goes on to claim that "the costs aren’t the point," arguing instead that 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."

If you thought the closing of the other piece was hokey, wait until you read this one:

We have stopped fraudits in Colorado, but the attacks on democracy are not ending. That’s why in 2022, voters can play a big role in protecting voting rights by electing secretaries of state who will expand, not curb, their access to the ballot box. Democracy will be on the ballot in battleground states, where the same politicians who supported overturning the 2020 election results and who are advancing voter suppression bills are now running to become secretaries of state.

As a nation, we are at a turning point and face a crucial question: Should eligible Americans get to choose their elected officials? Those who push voter suppression, the Big Lie or fraudits don’t think so. For me, the answer is a resounding "yes." I hope it is for you you, too. Because we must all lean in to protect our democracy from those who are actively attempting to end it.

Biden's Department of Justice announced on Friday, as Reagan reported, that it will sue the state of Georgia over their election reform bill signed by law by Gov. Brian Kemp, the state's Republican governor, in late March. 

Griswold, as Colorado Politics reported, is running for a second term, but doesn't a Republican challenger, not yet at least. The term ends on January 10, 2023.


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