A voter is seen at a polling location in Parker on June 28, 2022. (Carl Payne for Colorado Newsline)
Lawsuits in two Colorado counties seek to block the use of the voting machines used in those counties and force a hand count of ballots in the November election.
One lawsuit was filed in El Paso County District Court by two El Paso voters, Timothy J. Kirkwood and Paul T. Prentice, against the El Paso Board of Commissioners and El Paso County Clerk Chuck Broerman. Another lawsuit was filed in Mesa County District Court by two Mesa voters, Barbara Crossman and Brian Timothy Fenwick, against the Mesa County Board of Commissioners and the county’s designated election official, Brandi Bantz.
The lawsuits, both filed Friday, are nearly identical. They say the Dominion election system used in the counties “is illegal because it systematically deletes records in the normal course of its operation” and “periodic updates of the system delete all records located on the system at the time of the update.”
Dominion Voting Systems machines are used in 62 of Colorado’s 64 counties.
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The claims echo complaints long made by Colorado “election integrity” activists, including Republican Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who last year helped make copies of the Mesa election server hard drive in what is alleged to have been a serious security breach. Peters, an election denier who has cast doubt on the results of the 2020 presidential election, is under grand jury felony indictment for her participation in the alleged breach.
Claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent or compromised have been debunked by experts, courts and former President Donald Trump’s own campaign and administration officials.
The “forensic images” Peters helped make are central to the lawsuits, which reference the images to establish that the Dominion system is configured to illegally erase “critical election records, audit trails, and operational logfile records.” The plaintiffs ask the courts to order election officials in the counties to hand count votes in the general election in November.
All of this stuff about these records that are deleted, it's a complete red herring. It's just another way to gin people up so that they can go in and brainwash people about the garbage they're spewing.
– Matt Crane, of the Colorado County Clerks Association
The plaintiffs’ attorney in both cases is Greenwood Village-based John Case. When asked if similar lawsuits might appear in other Colorado counties, he said, “It’s certainly possible.” But he did not himself have plans to file such additional lawsuits.
He described the action’s broader goals.
“What we’re advocating for is: vote in person on Election Day, with ID, in your precinct,” he said, adding that this is how American voting used to work, but the system has since changed, particularly with widespread use of voting machines. “There’s no voter ID, there’s hundreds of thousands of ballots floating around that are easily converted to fraudulent votes, if somebody takes the trouble,” Case said. “And you know, the system’s just not secure. And the machines that they’re using don’t meet the legal standards that they’re required to meet.”
Coloradans do have to show ID to vote in person, but it does not have to be a photo ID, and the vast majority of Coloradans vote by mail, in which case signature verification is used to validate the ballot. There is no evidence that Colorado elections are compromised by widespread fraud.
Matt Crane, a Republican who serves as executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, disputes that Dominion machines are unreliable or that election systems in Colorado counties illegally delete election records. The process by which election systems are updated, called a “trusted build,” cleans out software and firmware by design and replaces it with new software and firmware that’s been tested and certified, he said.
“So, yes, files are deleted. However, after every election, and before the trusted build is done, counties make a backup of their voting system software, which, by the way, is what’s required by federal and state law,” Crane said. “There is no requirement in federal or state law to back up operating system records.”
This means that with backed-up voting records, including access and activity logs, officials in any county in the state could re-tabulate ballots from, for example, the 2020 election, Crane said. Colorado election systems include other safeguards, such as risk-limiting audits and “logic and accuracy” tests of voting equipment.
“That’s why all of this stuff about these records that are deleted, it’s a complete red herring. It’s just another way to gin people up so that they can go in and brainwash people about the garbage they’re spewing,” Crane said. “Every county in the state has what’s required to be retained under federal and state law.”
Case has become a go-to attorney for Coloradans who doubt the integrity of election systems. He represents defendant Dallas Schroeder, the Republican Elbert County clerk, who was sued by Secretary of State Jena Griswold after he, like Peters, made what were alleged to be unauthorized copies of the Elbert election system hard drives.
A Mesa County spokesperson said Monday evening that the county had not yet been served with the Mesa lawsuit. A spokesperson for Griswold did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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