Colorado lawmaker seeks 2020 election ‘audit’ in lawsuit against Griswold

Republican Ron Hanks, election-denying candidate for U.S. Senate, is joined by Douglas County’s top election official

By: - November 20, 2021 5:44 pm

Colorado state Rep. Ron Hanks speaks in the state House on May 22, 2021. (Screenshot from The Colorado Channel)

Ron Hanks, a state lawmaker and a leading Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, is suing Secretary of State Jena Griswold as part of an effort to undertake a third-party “audit” of the 2020 election in Colorado.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in the state district court in Denver and is before Judge Christopher Baumann.

The lawsuit claims that election system software used in Colorado’s 64 counties in 2020 was improperly certified, that the secretary of state’s office illegally destroyed election records, and that Griswold exceeded her authority when in the summer she adopted emergency rules to prevent the kind of election audit then occurring in Arizona, which she deemed illegitimate.

Also named as plaintiffs are Merlin Klotz, the Douglas County clerk and recorder; two of the three Rio Blanco County commissioners, Gary Moyer and Jeff Rector; and Park County Commissioner Amy Mitchell.


Asked to comment on the lawsuit, Griswold emailed a statement to Newsline through a spokesperson: “As Secretary of State, my top priority will always be protecting the right to vote and ensuring that every Coloradan—Republican, Democrat, and Unaffiliated, alike—can have their voices heard in secure and accessible elections. I will not be deterred from upholding the duties of my office by those who seek to undermine confidence in our election system or suppress the right to vote.”

Hanks is in his first term and represents the 60th District in the state House. Last month he entered the race to challenge U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat who is running for reelection in 2022. Hanks has repeatedly made false claims relating to the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. He crossed police lines at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

Klotz in December 2020 called for Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the results of the previous month’s election, writing on Facebook: “Pence has plenary authority on January 6 and can declare AZ, GA, MI, NM, NV, WI and PA elections illegal, not following state and general election processes … Contact/encourage Pence.”

Claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent or compromised have been debunked by experts, courts and election officials from both parties.

According to Hanks’ lawsuit, Dominion Voting Systems software, used in 62 Colorado counties, and Clear Ballot software, used in two counties, were declared certified for the 2020 election by the secretary of state after Pro V&V, an Alabama company said to be accredited by federal authorities, tested the software. But the company’s accreditation had lapsed when it performed the tests, the lawsuit alleges.

“An independent forensic audit is necessary to determine whether Colorado voting systems meet mandatory certification standards under Colorado law, and whether the systems accurately recorded the votes of the people of Colorado in the 2020 election,” says the lawsuit, which asks the court to enter a judgment that such an audit is necessary and to order the secretary of state to pay for it.

Colorado law already requires counties to conduct bipartisan risk-limiting audits, which are designed to provide a statistically high degree of confidence in election results.

The lawsuit also alleges that the state’s “trusted build” process, which involves a software update to election systems, resulted in the improper deletion of election records. And it claims Griswold’s adoption of emergency rules “effectively prevents qualified cyber security experts from being employed to test the integrity of Colorado voting systems and their compliance with Colorado law.”

The lawsuit cites the May 25 election software update in Mesa County, and alleges that Griswold’s staff and Dominion employees “permanently deleted or destroyed log files that were election records from the 2020 election.”

The event received national attention after Griswold accused Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters of being involved in a security breach during the software update, which resulted in passwords and other sensitive election system information becoming public. Peters was subsequently barred by a court from overseeing the coordinated election this month. Agents from the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Colorado Attorney General’s Office and the FBI searched Peters’ home on Nov. 16 as part of a related criminal investigation, as first reported by Colorado Politics

The primary claims in Hanks’ lawsuit echo many of the allegations made by Shawn Smith, a retired Air Force colonel from Colorado Springs who has worked with Colorado-based group U.S. Election Integrity Plan and is one of the state’s most vocal critics of election processes under Griswold.



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