Possible election security breach involving second Colorado county clerk probed

By: - January 24, 2022 3:11 pm

Transport judges Steve Sticker, left, and Dean Burton lift dozens of ballots out of a bag to be weighed at the Jefferson County elections office on Oct. 21, 2020. (Eli Imadali for Colorado Newsline)

A second county clerk in Colorado is being investigated in connection with an alleged election security breach in their own office.

Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced Monday the existence of an investigation into a potential security breach in Elbert County, and she said her office had issued an election order and subpoenas to Elbert Clerk Dallas Schroeder requiring him to disclose information. Schroeder has not responded to multiple requests for information, Griswold said in a statement, and on Monday she issued a new election order calling for Schroeder to appear for a deposition.


Schroeder disclosed in a court document in a different case that he had copied information from the hard drive of Elbert’s voting system before Aug. 27, “but it did not disclose how the copy was made or what security measures were taken at the time,” Griswold’s statement said.

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters is under criminal investigation for similar alleged activity. She is accused of participating in activity that led to the release of election-system hard drive images and passwords to election-fraud conspiracy theorists. It was announced this month that the Mesa County grand jury will investigate those allegations. Peters and Schroeder are both Republicans.

Schroeder “has failed to respond to both an email request and an Election Order requiring disclosure of information about this potential breach. That is why I am now taking further action,” said Griswold. “As Secretary of State, my top priority is to ensure that every eligible Coloradan — Republican, Democrat, and Independent, alike — has access to secure elections and I will always protect Colorado’s election infrastructure.”

When a reporter called Schroeder’s office Monday, a person who answered the phone said the clerk had no comment. The reporter had not specified what they were calling about and asked if the Elbert elections office was instructed by Schroeder not to speak to the press, no matter what the subject.

“He said he has no comment,” the person said. The person declined to state their name and hung up.

Schroeder is one of two county clerks who are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Griswold filed by GOP state Rep. Ron Hanks, an election denier who is running for U.S. Senate this year. 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.

Griswold notes in her statement Monday that she was alerted to a potential election security breach in Elbert by the Hanks lawsuit. An affidavit signed by Schroeder and submitted to the court as part of the lawsuit said he “made an image of the voting system hard drive” but did not say how the copy was made or secured.

The court last week permitted Hanks to withdraw from the lawsuit after Hanks said his duties in the Legislature and his Senate campaign made it impractical for him to remain a plaintiff, though the suit will continue to bear his name.

Griswold said her office “does not believe at this time” that the potential security breach “has created an imminent or direct security risk to Colorado’s elections.”


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