Emergency Colorado election rules said to address threat of ‘sham audits’

By: - June 18, 2021 7:05 pm

A box of Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election is delivered to be examined and recounted by contractors working for Florida-based company, Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, on April 29, 2021. (Pool photo by Rob Schumacher/Arizona Republic)

The Colorado secretary of state on Thursday announced the temporary emergency adoption of new rules that clarify and limit who is allowed to access voting equipment in Colorado.

Secretary Jena Griswold said the new rules are necessary to prevent the kind of suspect election audits that are occurring or have been proposed elsewhere.

“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,” a press release from Griswold’s office said. “Several Colorado counties have been contacted by third parties offering to conduct audits.”

The Republican-controlled Arizona Senate is conducting an audit of the election in Maricopa County, which went for President Joe Biden in November. The audit is widely viewed as a sham based on discredited assertions that the election was fraudulent. To run the audit, the Senate hired Cyber Ninjas, which had no experience auditing elections and is led by a supporter of former President Donald Trump. Similar audits have been proposed in other states. Observers say the Arizona audit has compromised the security of voting machines and violates record retention and chain-of-custody standards.

Among the emergency rules Griswold adopted is one that specifies that no person is permitted access to voting systems unless the person has passed a background check and is working for a county clerk, the secretary of state or the voting system provider, or is an election judge.

Prominent Colorado Republicans blasted Griswold’s new rules.

“The Colorado Secretary of State has just moved to ban any possible election audit in the state of Colorado,” wrote U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert on Twitter — though this is false. Colorado requires risk-limiting audits after elections.

Kristi Burton Brown, chair of the Colorado GOP, said in a statement about the new rules, “Jena Griswold is a partisan hack who always misses the opportunity to lead … All Coloradans, regardless of party affiliation, need to have faith in our electoral system. Jena’s partisan decisions consistently undermine that faith.”

The next coordinated election in Colorado is Nov. 2, and Griswold alluded to the date in a “statement of justification” for the emergency rules.

“These rules are necessary to ensure the continued security and integrity of, and public confidence in, Colorado’s voting systems and its elections,” the statement said. “These rules also ensure uniform conduct of the quickly approaching November coordinated election.”

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