Briefline

Elbert County clerk wants access to election system copies in Colorado secretary of state’s possession

By: - August 19, 2022 1:26 pm

Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroder speaks at the county fairgrounds on Aug. 18, 2022. (Sara Wilson/Colorado Newsline)

Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder is calling on the Colorado secretary of state’s office to allow him to examine the election system hard drives he turned over to the office in May in order to make sure they are still intact.

“I am still the chief custodian of all election records in Elbert County. That includes the drives that are in the possession of the attorney general’s office or the secretary of state’s office or whoever has them right now,” the Republican Schroeder told a crowd of about 150 people at the Elbert County fairgrounds Thursday night.

He organized the gathering to explain his reasoning behind making unauthorized copies of the county’s election system last summer, which resulted in a lawsuit that Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s office filed against him and an election supervisor the secretary appointed to oversee the county’s primary election.

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Schroeder said he decided to make so-called “forensic images,” or copies of the election system hard drives, last August after learning a few things that gave him pause. That included a statement from Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency adviser Matthew Masterson saying that the agency would use algorithms to combat election-related misinformation, which Schroeder said he thought would lead to a suppression of opinions.

Second, Schroeder said he was concerned with the certification of a voting system testing laboratory, which are qualified to test voting systems to federal standards. Various documents Schroeder presented showed the laboratory in question, Alabama-based Pro V&V, having accreditation until 2017. He was concerned that the accreditation was not up to date and had questions about the testing process.

The federal Election Assistance Commission, however, has never voted to revoke that company’s accreditation and issued a new certificate on Feb. 1. 2021, more than six months before Schroeder made the copies.

“I had a lot of help and people supplying information,” Schroeder said. “With all that information, I made the decision that we needed to copy the drives of the Elbert County system.”

He maintains that in making those copies, he wanted to follow the law and “be above reproach,” noting that he did all of the copying under surveillance.

The secretary of state’s office, however, said the copies were made without proper authorization. The office opened an investigation into Schroeder’s conduct and eventually sued Schroeder to compel him to hand over the copies.

Now Schroeder wants those hard drives and the election records within them to be retained beyond the 25 month state requirement, and he wants time to physically examine them.

“I am requesting that a mutually agreeable time be coordinated for me to be able to examine the security logs, inspect the drives and any reports or data that has been extracted from the drives. I believe it is my responsibility to maintain all election records and to ensure the security and chain of custody of election records,” Schroeder wrote in a July 27 letter to Deputy Secretary of State Christopher Beall.

Schroeder said he has not yet heard back from the secretary’s office.

Schroeder said that the accuracy of elections in Elbert County is not in question and that hand recounts confirmed that the voting machines operate correctly. He said he is not in favor of getting rid of voting machines, as some “election integrity” activists have pushed for, when asked by an audience member.

The secretary of state’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Schroeder’s letter.

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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

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