Fremont County Clerk Responds To Election Claims
On June 7th, there was an article posted on the website dated June 3rd titled,” Colorado Secretary of State Deletes Data, Violates State Election Laws”. Upon reading this article that was submitted written by Mona Demicell, Garfield County Patriots, I found multiple inaccuracies and I feel it is my duty to correct these inaccurate statements.
First, I want to point out that the Colorado Department of State headed by the Secretary of State has NOT outsourced election security. Cyber security of the Voter Registration System is maintained and protected by the SoS IT team. The SoS's office has done this for years. During an active election, the CO Dept of State is joined by multiple different government organizations that monitor and prevent those who would wish to manipulate the voter roles. Local election equipment is leased or purchased by each county from an election vendor and secured by combination locked doors. These combinations are changed by each county before every election. Only county election staff have the combination to these locked doors. Computer admin passwords that allow bios and software changes are not held at the county level. Counties can choose between 2 vendors that have successfully passed both federal and state testing and met the minimum state law requirements. The vendors approved in Colorado are Dominion and Clear Ballot. Cyber security is a different component than election equipment security. Election equipment security is established by chain of custody by each county clerk. No one has access to Election equipment without election staff. For more information go to www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections
Secondly, I want to address election retention. The article states that state election retention in Colorado is 22 months. It goes on to state that the upgrade violates election law retention. Both of these statements are false. 52 US Code § 20701 is the federal code that deals with election retention. Retention for federal elections is 22 months. In Colorado, CRS 1-7-802 states that election retention is 25 months. Colorado Revised Statutes and Colorado Regulations determine election retention policy and procedures. All Clerks must retain all paperwork, video, electronic information, and anything else that would be needed to prove results. All Clerk's must follow the 25 months minimum for retention. For a clearer understanding of election retention review the County Clerk's Association Retention Plan. It is available on the CO State Archives website at archives.colorado.gov
Thirdly, the article states that counties have completed upgrades to the voting systems and retention of records is lost. This statement is partially false. Yes, there are counties that have already completed the updates to their election equipment. No, records were not lost. All clerks are required to backup all data, information, and elections projects to an external drive. The “upgrade” is really a Trusted Build. Trusted Build starts with the SoS office's staff that specialize in programming. They configure the settings of the hardware, firmware, and software to ensure the computer is secure. Then as technology changes, election vendors update or build newer versions of election software to conduct elections. Both the SoS and vendor teams will combine the enhancements and test the software and computer configurations to make sure the computer is safe and secure to use in upcoming elections. Once Trusted Build is certified, counties will receive the upgrades and establish a chain of custody for each computer used. All of this is in Colorado rule in the Code of Colorado Regulations. More specifically 8 Code of Colorado Regulations 1505-1 Rule 11. All of the Trusted Build is completed by in-person staff from the Clerk's Election Division, SoS's staff, and election vendor's staff. Not one person or department has access to election equipment or passwords to manipulate the settings. For more information go to www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/VotingSystems/VSHomePage1.html
Fourth, there is a statement in the article that Elbert County delayed its “upgrade” to better understand the update, is a fabrication. After contacting the Clerk and Recorder of Elbert County, he indicated that the Secretary of State's Office changed the date after a disagreement of CDC protocols and his county was given one of the last dates for the “upgrade”. The Clerk never asked for a change of date nor was it associated with lack of understanding about the trusted build. I would encourage anyone to follow up with calling the Elbert County Clerk and Recorder.
Fifth, the newsletter from Dominion that was sent out was information only. It has no details because it clearly states what would be coming in the future with the new enhancements. Most of the enhances are added reports that can be printed for additional audits. It also had more information such as; letting Clerk's know they will be on-site with the CO dept of state staff, reminding clerks to check their equipment is running efficiently, training, and to make sure clerks have closed and backed-up all previous elections. It was simply a notification of what to expect over the month of May.
Sixth, lawsuits against Dominion in progress. The lawsuits have dwindled down because of 2 reasons. Either the lawsuits are dropped due to lack of jurisdiction or those bringing the lawsuits have dropped them due to lack of evidence. None of the lawsuits are in Colorado and the questionable acts of the current Secretary of State of approving Dominion are mute. Colorado law and rule says any election system must meet a minimum standard in Colorado to be certified. The SoS can't deny certification without cause. Two election vendors meet those standards; Clear Ballot and Dominion.
Seventh, I stand by my statement last year when I said that Colorado's elections are the “Gold Standard” of elections in the US. Gold is durable, flexible, and made stronger using other metals. Elections are durable. Since 2013 and the adoption of the full mail-ballot system in Colorado, elections have endured tests and audits to prove its accuracy. Elections are flexible. Gold, as a metal, is very flexible easy to mold and craft into something great and so are elections in Colorado. Election law on all levels is constantly changed, molded, and craft to be better every year. Gold becomes stronger when mixed with other metals. There is always room to improve elections and make them stronger. It is up to everyone to work together to make elections stronger and not work against each other to weaken it. Colorado Election laws and rules are deleted, changed and created annually with a lot of input from others. With the help of County Clerks, legislators, experts, and most importantly citizens, we will continue to improve elections to be as accessible, transparent, accurate, and continue to be considered the “Gold Standard”.
Lastly, as 1 of 64 Clerks and Recorder's of the State of Colorado I was elected to serve my constituents. As an elected official, I have taken an oath to uphold the state and federal constitutions. For elections to be the best, it takes not just Clerks and Elections staff, but citizens to help improve what we have in place. I encourage you to ask questions and volunteer your time as an election judge, poll watcher, or with a party. I never blindly followed my elected officials before my election, so why would I ask any differently of anyone else. A word of caution though, if you want to ask questions go to the source of the information and ask. You should not listen to those who are not in the field, that can lead to rumors, half-truths and lies. That will cause rifts between elected official and citizens and cause citizens to not trust local officials. If it is election information in particular you want to know about, ask your county clerks, local election division, or Colorado Department of State's Election Division because they will know more than most about elections.
As always, I have an open-door policy so, please e-mail me, call me, or walk in. If I am not busy, I will have a discussion with you and if I am busy, we can schedule a time to talk. If you need to contact me my information is below.
Your Clerk and Recorder,
Justin D Grantham
615 Macon Avenue, Suite 102 Cañon City, CO 81212