Briefline

Secretary Griswold names supervisor to monitor Elbert County primary election

By: - June 10, 2022 9:30 am

Election workers process ballots at the Arapahoe County Elections Facility in Littleton, on Nov. 3, 2020. (Carl Payne for Colorado Newsline)

Secretary of State Jena Griswold appointed an official to watch election activities in Elbert County in order to put guardrails on a county clerk involved in a security breach.

Griswold, a Democrat, appointed Christi Coburn, described as a “professional elections administrator,” as a supervisor through an election order on Thursday. Coburn will monitor the decisions Clerk Dallas Schroeder and his staff make during the primary election process.

Coburn will start immediately at the county’s expense.

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Schroeder, a Republican, created an unauthorized copy of his county’s election system hard drives before a trusted build software update last year with the help of conservative activists who reject the results of the 2020 presidential election. Schroeder then gave those copies to unauthorized people for safe keeping, including real estate attorney and a former Republican Colorado House minority leader Joseph P. Stengel Jr.

Earlier this year, Griswold took legal action and ordered Schroeder to hand over the copies he made. The investigation into his actions is ongoing.

“In light of the circumstances that have been uncovered to date, the Department believes that the risk to election security protocols has not been resolved,” the election order reads.

Therefore, Coburn will watch the clerk’s preparation and activities throughout the primary elections and will submit reports of any “instances of substantial noncompliance.” Coburn will also be able to recommend to Griswold whether the order should be extended past the primary election.

“Every eligible Coloradan – Republican, Democrat, and Unaffiliated alike – has the right to cast a ballot in accessible and secure elections. That’s why I am taking action to appoint a supervisor in Elbert County to ensure voters have the election they deserve,” Griswold said in a statement.

Additionally on Thursday, Griswold appointed former Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Mesa County Treasurer Sheila Reiner, both Republicans, as advisors in the Mesa County primary election.

Last month, Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters was barred from overseeing any 2022 elections and a judge appointed Brandi Bantz, the county’s election director, as the county’s designated election official.

Williams and Reiner will advise Bantz “as needed” during the primary, as the trio worked together during the successful 2021 coordinated election. Peters was also prohibited from overseeing that election and Williams served as the designated election official.

Peters, a Republican running for secretary of state, is under a grand jury indictment for allegedly facilitating a security breach in Mesa County that led to a leak of sensitive elections information online. She also made copies of the election system hard drive and has used them to spread the baseless claim that widespread voter fraud compromised the 2020 presidential election.

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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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