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Legislative Audit Committee Will Meet After Presidential Electors Certify Vote

Legislative Audit Committee Will Meet After Presidential Electors Certify VoteEXPAND
Colorado General Assembly
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While Governor Jared Polis and Secretary of State Jena Griswold presided over the meeting of the state's presidential electors at the Colorado Capitol on December 14, the election isn't over yet...at least not for some people.

On December 15, the Legislative Audit Committee will be back at the Capitol for a special meeting to consider the state's election system, in yet another spinoff from speculation and sour grapes centering on Dominion Voting Systems, the Denver-based company that's been labeled "very suspect" by President Donald Trump.

The committee's chair, Representative Lori Saine, called the meeting in response to calls from fellow Republican representatives for an investigation into Dominion and other election issues. Saine is no stranger to controversy herself; since her own election in 2013, she's taken a number of highly scrutinized stances — from sponsoring a bill to repeal the “red flag” legislation to claiming white and Black people were lynched in nearly equal numbers post-Reconstruction — that inspired our story "Five Reasons Why Lori Saine Is Colorado's Nastiest, Most Clueless Politician."

“Legitimate questions have been raised by our constituents across the state, and the Legislative Audit Committee will act to address those questions even when a ruling majority refuses to do so,” Saine said in announcing the meeting.

Committee members have been told that they'll hear from several election officials and other individuals who can speak to direct experience regarding the handling of Colorado’s elections and use of Dominion systems, along with Trump attorney Jenna Ellis.

Griswold will not be attending, but her office released the written remarks that she and Elections Director Judd Choate prepared to "dispel misinformation," laying out the steps that are undertaken to maintain election integrity, including protection of voting systems, protection of ballots, protection of voter identity, and protection of the accuracy of the results through post-election audits (read them in their entirety here).

“I don’t know what this meeting will do," admits Representative Tracy Kraft-Tharp, a Democrat who's on the committee. "We have no authority over county clerks, we have no authority over private corporations. We do have audit authority over the Secretary of State, and that’s about it."

Still, she adds; "I am under no illusions that we are going to walk away from this meeting on Tuesday at twelve o’clock and people in Colorado are going to go, ‘Okay, there is no election fraud.’”

Since early results indicated that Joe Biden had won the presidential election — which the electoral college is expected to certify today — there has been widespread speculation about voter fraud, especially related to Dominion Voting Systems. The company produces equipment used in 28 states, including several where election results were disputed. On its corporate website, Dominion has been regularly updating a "Setting the Record Straight" statement, refuting rumors ranging from weighted voting to vote-counting in Germany to ties to Hugo Chavez; its latest version is dated early December 14.

“All 2020 election audits and recounts using Dominion technology have validated the accuracy and reliability of results, confirming the integrity of election outcomes,” the statement reads. “Baseless claims about the integrity of the system or the accuracy of the results have been dismissed by election authorities, subject matter experts and third-party fact-checkers.”

Over sixty of Colorado's 64 counties use Dominion systems, which contracted with the state under previous Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican; Griswold has repeatedly pointed to Colorado as the "gold standard" for election security. Dominion machines are reportedly not connected to the Internet, and every voter casts a paper ballot, creating an unalterable record used to double-check machine-counted votes during the state’s risk-limiting audit. Griswold certified the state’s election results on December 8, after the RLA was complete and each county’s bipartisan canvass board certified its election results. According to Pam Anderson, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, "Colorado's public bipartisan canvass and audit boards verified that there were no kind of election irregularities as described."

But rumors persist in Colorado, as they do in much of the rest of the country. Both the Adams County GOP and the Jefferson County GOP questioned the legitimacy of the election, with Jeffco requesting an audit of the 2020 and 2018 results. And in Boulder County, the Republican canvasser declined to certify the election pending additional documentation.

“There’s a whole bunch of folks, including here in Colorado, that feel this past election wasn’t on the up-and-up,” says Representative Rod Bockenfeld, a Republican on the audit committee. “I’m hoping we can get some answers. I’m not quite sure what the outcome’s going to be. I hope it’s one that people are satisfied that the election was a fair election, but I’m not sure we’re going to get there.”

But other committee members think the only motive for the meeting is political. “We’ve always operated in a very bipartisan manner. I am afraid that this is about politics and that this will hurt this committee,” says Kraft-Tharp. “You do it once, people will do it again. Is this going to be a regular practice that one political party has an issue and they’re going to use this committee for their political purposes?”

On December 7, seven state representatives and one representative-elect, all Republicans, asked Speaker of the House KC Becker to form a special committee on election integrity.

Becker declined. “Colorado has a proven reputation as one of the safest and most secure election systems in the country,” she responded the next day. “I do not support using public funds to investigate President Trump’s spurious claims of election fraud. … I would hope and expect that as elected members of our State Legislature, you would hold truth and facts in high regard and join other prominent members of your party in dispelling far-fetched conspiracies.”

As for the December 15 meeting called by Saine, Becker says it's “wholly unnecessary.”

Bockenfeld isn't surprised that some would label the meeting as politically motivated. “If it wasn’t within the duties of our committee, then why was the chair given the opportunity to call the special meeting?” he asks. “If there’s something that is unexplained or of interest to the committee from a financial perspective, we’re supposed to be looking out for the best interest of the taxpayers. It’s kind of hard to argue that if you have a whole bunch of citizens in this state who have concerns about how the election is run and if it’s viable, that wouldn’t be within the purview.”

Expect another update of "Setting the Record Straight" soon.

This story has been updated to include the link to Jena Griswold's prepared remarks.

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