Colorado Secretary of State concludes “no current threat” to Douglas County election system after investigation

Douglas County voting equipment security was not breached, an investigation by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office concluded on Thursday.

The investigation was spurred by a posting on the social media platform Telegram from a third party attributed to Douglas County Clerk and Recorder Merlin Klotz, a Republican. The message said that a copy of the voting equipment server was taken before the “trusted build” process.

Secretary of State Jena Griswold launched an investigation into a possible election security protocol breach, making Klotz the third to come under such an investigation over the past year. When Griswold’s office asked for further information from the clerk by the end of January, he didn’t respond, so she issued an order requiring disclosure by Thursday.

Klotz is also a plaintiff on a lawsuit against Griswold calling for an Arizona-style audit of the 2020 election results.

In a response from the Douglas County Attorney’s Office and a separate letter from Klotz, the secretary of state’s office was informed on Tuesday that only specifically authorized elections staff had access to the hardware components of the system and not Klotz, Griswold’s office said. Based on that information, interviews with the authorized employees and the county’s review of a year’s worth of facility logs, the secretary of state’s office concluded that a breach had not occurred and that no one had access, including Klotz, to create an unauthorized image.

“After receiving responses from Douglas County, my office is satisfied that there is no current threat to the county’s election system,” Griswold said in a written statement. “As Secretary of State, I will always do what is required to ensure that every Colorado voter, no matter their political affiliation, zip code, or amount of money in their bank account can make their voice heard in accessible and secure elections.”

In his letter to Griswold’s office, Klotz also confirmed that there was no copy made and said the social media post was from an email, taken out of context, and wasn’t meant to be a “exacting recitation of events.”

“While I had no input when a third party re-posted an email to a concerned voter on a social media website and attributed the posting to me, I do regret that I used the wrong terminology in trying to describe the backup process to the voter,” he wrote in the letter. “There was no ‘full image backup’ and the posting to social media is incorrect.”

The other county clerk under investigation for a possible breach of election security protocols for allegedly imaging voting equipment servers is Elbert County Clerk and Recorder Dallas Schroeder. Additionally, the secretary of state has taken legal action against Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters who allegedly allowed an unauthorized person access to the equipment to take images of the server and the passwords to voting equipment were later leaked online.

This is a developing story and will be updated.



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