Colorado election law updates follow threats against election workers, allegations against Tina Peters

Colorado law now includes new provisions aimed to protect the state’s elections and its election workers.

Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday signed into law SB22-153, which requires new security measures for election systems, and HB22-1273, which makes it a crime to threaten election officials or publish their personal information online to harass them.

“We want to make sure that every vote is accurately counted,” Polis said at the signing ceremony. “And we also want to make sure that those that oversee elections themselves don’t have to worry about their about their physical safety.”

The election security law is specifically aimed at “insider threats,” such as election workers “embracing conspiracies,” Secretary of State Jena Griswold said. It includes making it a felony to tamper with voting equipment or knowingly publish confidential information about the system. It also requires key card access and video surveillance for voting systems.

“We are not immune to the attacks on democracy that we have seen across the nation,” Griswold said, while hailing the state’s election security and ballot access.

Griswold didn’t name Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, but Peters’ alleged actions spurred the legislation. Peters is under indictment for alleged breaches to her county’s election system. Peters is seeking the Republican nomination for secretary of state, and was the top vote getter at the state GOP assembly this spring. She was recently barred from overseeing the June primary election and November general election after being sued by Griswold.

Griswold also hailed protections for election workers. She said many are facing threats and fear doing their jobs. She has previously shared the threats she’s personally received.

The law also requires training for election workers, a move specifically hailed by the Colorado County Clerks Association as bolstering voter confidence in how elections are conducted. The group, which is comprised of Democrat and Republican clerks, backed both bills.

“Colorado has spent many years creating a voting system that is the best in the country on measures of accuracy and safety from external threats,” association executive director Matt Crane said in a statement. “Recent events have shown us we need to redouble our efforts to guard against internal threats as well.”

The bill to increase election security measures was sponsored by Sens. Stephen Fenberg and Kevin Priola, a Boulder Democrat and a Henderson Republican, respectively, and Rep. Susan Lontine, a Denver Democrat. The bill to protect election workers was sponsored by Fenberg and Sen. Brittany Pettersen, a Democrat from Lakewood, and Reps. Monica Duran and Emily Sirota, Democrats from Wheat Ridge and Denver, respectively.

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