2022 Leg Session, Elections, Gold Dome, Uncategorized

Overbeck: Egregious bill criminalizes clerks checking election accuracy

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Democrats at the statehouse–along with lone Republican sponsor, Senator Kevin Priola–have come up with an outrageous bill that would criminalize county clerks or anyone else with the temerity to investigate the accuracy and security of their elections. Senate Bill 153 changes Colorado statutes to rob clerks of their lawful elected duty to assure their county elections are fair and honest, and hands the keys of the election kingdom entirely to the secretary of state. If the bill passes into law, clerks will be blocked from examining records to find out if their elections have been compromised or hacked by outside internet intrusion. That’s unless they want to spend a couple of years in jail and pay a fine up to $100,000 for a class 5 felony.

And all this repression comes with a price tag of only a little over half a million dollars of our tax money.

This bunker-busting election bomb is aimed at preemptively blowing up any future trouble-makers who, like Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder and Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, have looked into what’s been happening inside the Dominion machines, and are now facing criminal charges for actually doing their jobs. Inquiring minds want to know: is the passage of this unprecedented secretary of state power play setting the stage for the manipulation of the 2022 elections?

Copying the machine hard drives and the records they contain wasn’t illegal when Clerk Schroeder and Clerk Peters did it, but this bill would make such action by any clerks to assure election security punishable by a $100,000 fine and years in jail.

The punishment seems incredibly excessive for the crime and also bizarre, since the county clerks are in charge of their local elections and the election machines are their responsibility. To forbid them to investigate the machines they oversee is like telling a surgeon to operate without opening up the patient. But after Peters had the Mesa County hard drives copied, Griswold issued harsh emergency rules forbidding clerks from doing so, and from using outside cyber-security experts to examine the election systems.

One little problem: her edict interfered with the clerks’ legal duty to retain election records for the 25 months required by Colorado law, and 22 months by federal law. But SB 153 would set her radical rules in the cement of law.

“When Griswold prevented us and anyone we would hire from getting into the server log files, we could never see the outside intrusion from Internet sources that could manipulate votes,” says Merlin Klotz who has served Douglas County as Clerk and Recorder for seven years and is also a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Griswold. “These machines are supposed to be a closed system and not connected to the Internet, but Clerk Peters’ report from cyber-experts shows that is not the case.  I can’t legitimately certify the election without seeing those files, and the secretary of state is denying all 64 county clerks the access they need, as well as the ability to hire outside cyber-security people to audit and verify the results.”

This flagrantly despotic bill fixes that dilemma by actually eliminating the authority of the local county clerk and canvassing board to certify their own elections. Section 13 of the bill gives the secretary of state sole authority to overrule a county’s decision not to certify. If a local canvassing board refuses to certify because it has found problems in the election, as have been found in many counties – such as hundreds of invalid voter registrations because voters moved, or died, or don’t exist – the secretary of state can certify anyway.  This provision effectively renders the work of the local canvassing board null and void.

Some of the provisions of this jaw-dropping bill drastically change existing Colorado law, some are also very likely unconstitutional, and some are both. Examples:

  • Section 8 “specifies the circumstances under which a person is ineligible to serve as a designated election official for a county…”  So the secretary of state has the power to ban, oh, let’s say, a county clerk who may have been convicted for legitimately looking into election machines in her county from running for public office. Now that’s power.
  • Section 10 requires machine-only ballot counting, usurping the legal authority of county commissioners to make these decisions. As more citizens come to understand the potential corruption of machines, more counties will want to return to voting without them. Too bad; they can’t.
  • Section 11 forbids counties from making a backup of the voting system hard drive, which is what Clerk Peters’ cyber experts did prior to the “trusted build” in which the Secretary and the machine company “updated” the machines. This provision conflicts with county clerks’ legal duty to preserve election records for 25 months.
  • Section 14 makes it a Class 1 Misdemeanor (penalty up to 18 months jail or $5,000 fine or both) to refuse to comply with rules or orders of the secretary of state.
  • Section 15 makes it a Class 5 Felony (punishable by 1-2 years imprisonment and fine of up to $100,000) to (1) violate rules of SOS regarding access to voting systems, or (2) facilitate unauthorized access to voting system or election night reporting system, or (3) publish passwords or other confidential information relating to a voting system

SB 153 is unprecedented in its stranglehold on our fundamental freedom to express our will to our government through our vote. It must be stopped dead in its tracks. Why don’t the Democrats want voters to see what’s going on behind the curtain in these machines? Call and email your Colorado statehouse representative to vote NO on Senate Bill 153. Find out who they are here. The bill has already passed the Senate and will be making its way through the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

Joy Overbeck is a Colorado based journalist and author who has written for Townhall, American Thinker, The Washington Times, The Federalist, the Daily Caller, and others. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @joyoverbeck1.  


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