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Denver's Dominion Voting Services Is Target of Trump Voting-Fraud Rumors

Dominion Voting Services is based in the Denver Tramway Building that once housed the Old Spaghetti Factory.EXPAND
Dominion Voting Services is based in the Denver Tramway Building that once housed the Old Spaghetti Factory.
Patricia Calhoun

In a barrage of tweets issued last week, still-President Donald Trump let loose with this on November 12:

“REPORT: DOMINION DELETED 2.7 MILLION TRUMP VOTES NATIONWIDE. DATA ANALYSIS FINDS 221,000 PENNSYLVANIA VOTES SWITCHED FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP TO BIDEN. 941,000 TRUMP VOTES DELETED. STATES USING DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS SWITCHED 435,000 VOTES FROM TRUMP TO BIDEN.”

In response, and after a week of rumors labeling the company as the chief culprit in suspected voting fraud, Dominion Voting Systems — one of the most widely used voting equipment companies in the U.S. — posted a “setting the record straight” statement on dominionvoting.com on November 13:

“Dominion Voting Systems categorically denies false assertions about vote switching issues with our voting systems,” it reads. “According to a joint statement by the federal government agency that oversees U.S. election security, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA): ‘There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.’
The government & private sector councils that support this mission called the 2020 election ‘the most secure in American history.’”

That’s followed by a point-by-point debunking of numerous rumors, including the Pennsylvania-vote deletion accusation, Sharpie pen conspiracies, and theories suggesting that Dominion has ownership relationships with members of the Pelosi family, the Feinstein family, the Clinton Global Initiative...and Venezuela. “Dominion is a nonpartisan U.S. company,” it states.

Specifically, a non-partisan U.S. company whose headquarters are in Denver, the capital city of a state where 62 out of 64 counties use Dominion Voting Systems products.

Founded as a Canadian company in 2003, Dominion Voting Systems was incorporated in the United States in 2009, when it set up offices in Denver, ultimately landing at its current location at 1801 Lawrence Street. Today it’s one of the largest voting-equipment companies in the country, currently providing machines and software to more than 1,300 jurisdictions.

Donald J. Trump campaigned for his re-election in Colorado Springs, Cory Gardner by his side.
Donald J. Trump campaigned for his re-election in Colorado Springs, Cory Gardner by his side.
Evan Semón

The polls had barely closed on November 3 when stories started circulating about one of those jurisdictions — Antrim County, Michigan — where Dominion Voting Systems equipment had counted thousands of non-Biden votes as Biden votes in the county’s unofficial results. The Michigan Department of State quickly issued a clarification noting that Antrim County, as well as many other Michigan counties, uses Dominion’s election management system software and ballot tabulators, which scan paper ballots; the counties then report unofficial election results based on the software’s calculations, and the tabulator prints a paper totals tape that also records how ballots were marked. In Antrim County, because the county clerk accidentally did not update the software, the unofficial results were incorrectly combined, the department explained. But a bipartisan board of canvassers reviews every totals tape to double-check the unofficial results, and the mistake was caught and corrected before the official count was released.

Soon after, one Georgia county said that an issue with Dominion equipment had caused a day-long delay in uploading some votes, while two others claimed that Dominion equipment temporarily prevented voters from casting ballots on election day.

By the time Dominion addressed the Michigan and Georgia incidents in its statement, rumors of voter fraud were flying, and despite debunking by major news outlets across the country, they continue to make the rounds.
Trump picked on Dominion this weekend with another tweet: “People are not going to stand for having this Election stolen from them by a privately owned Radical Left company, Dominion, and many other reasons!” And on November 14, former New York mayor and Trump legal team point man Rudy Giuliani called for a national security investigation of Dominion.

Dominion’s tenure in its home state has not been without controversy, either. In 2015, when Colorado counties were required to update their voting equipment to comply with a 2009 law, then-Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican, said that the new equipment could only be purchased from Dominion. His office had been working since 2013 to make voting equipment uniform across the state, and the Dominion deal was a continuation of that effort. Williams had weighed Dominion’s financial health and sustainability, as well as recommendations from an advisory committee, before deciding to designate Dominion as the statewide voting-machine vendor, according to a 2015 press release from his office.

Before selecting the firm, the state had done a pilot project with four different companies and eight counties, pairing a larger county and a smaller one in each case. Denver and Mesa counties piloted Dominion’s system.
Sheila Reiner, the Mesa County clerk and recorder at the time, recalls that the advisory committee ultimately recommended Dominion for a number of reasons. “It was scalable,” she remembers. “The smallest of counties could work on a small scanner that was less expensive, and the big counties could get the high-speed counters that they needed.”

But perhaps Dominion’s most important asset was the fact that the company was the only provider at the time that could comply with the requirements for Colorado’s risk-limiting audit, or RLA, she adds. Conducted after every statewide election, the RLA includes a series of steps in which a formula helps counties select random ballots to double-check by hand.

Despite Dominion’s selling points, several local officials questioned the 2015 deal. The Jefferson County commissioners even considered filing a lawsuit against Williams because they did not want Jeffco to make the switch, recalls County Commissioner Libby Szabo. Ultimately, the lawsuit did not move forward, and the county wound up purchasing Dominion equipment.

The Jeffco commissioners didn’t have issues with Dominion itself. “I never think it’s good for any company to have a monopoly, and I believe it was two years prior, our clerk had bought another system,” Szabo explains. “And I wondered, why is [Williams] pushing this so hard that it would end up in a lawsuit? Just say, ‘Okay, you guys don’t have to have it.’ It’s always good on these kinds of things to let that local control stand out.”

While Szabo still thinks that a monopoly contract has its drawbacks, she says she hasn’t heard of any Dominion-related problems in Jeffco.

The county’s clerk and recorder, George Stern, echoes that. “Dominion has been unquestionably safe and secure in Jefferson County, and that’s a testament to the system itself, but it’s also a testament to all of the checks we have in place,” he says. “We’re extraordinarily lucky to have the system we do in Colorado.”

After the Williams-ordered switch to Dominion, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office did adopt a provision allowing counties to submit an application to purchase equipment from a second company, Clear Ballot. Today, just two Colorado counties do not use Dominion Voting Services products.

The company’s equipment makes up “the front end and back end” of the Denver voting process, says Alton Dillard, communications manager for the Denver Clerk and Recorder’s Office. Residents voting in person use Dominion’s accessible voting machines to mark their ballots, and the ballots are later scanned by Dominion equipment. The systems are tested for logic and accuracy prior to each election, Dillard says, and the post-election audit ensures the accuracy of the results.

Colorado counties all conducted their post-election audit on November 16, with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office overseeing the job. Jena Griswold now heads that office; she defeated Wayne Williams in 2018. Her office referred all Dominion Voting Systems-related questions to Dominion; the company did not respond to requests for comment.

Other states are now finalizing their own audits of the November 3 election.

In Texas, officials won’t be analyzing results tabulated by Dominion equipment. In 2019, officials there rejected the implementation of Dominion software, saying that hired experts had found “multiple hardware and software issues” and that the equipment did not meet state standards. But beyond that glitch, Dominion stands by its equipment.

So far, none of the accusations of voter fraud involving Dominion equipment in the 2020 election have been proven to be true, though Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel says she’s still worried that what happened in Antrim County might have occurred in other places. And talk of Dominion continues to fill conservative websites and radio shows.

But Coloradans who’ve used Dominion’s systems say that they’d be hard-pressed to imagine widespread irregularities, glitches or fraud going unnoticed, at least based on their own experiences with the company’s products.

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“Everything that’s done through the entire process is done by bipartisan teams. There are a number of checks and balances,” says Arapahoe County election judge Dick Eason.

The rumors are “detrimental to our system,” says Vinny Martin, who’s opened ballots in Arapahoe County for four years. “I don’t agree with the position that people take, [asking], ‘What if people make mistakes, what if people do this?’ I don’t think that happens. When somebody says ballots come in afterwards, no, that doesn’t happen. People do their job. I find it very distasteful, based on rumors, to say it’s rigged. The system we have here is ironclad.”

Still, it’s important to check out the rumors, according to Jeffco’s Szabo. “If there are ever any issues, I think they need to be looked into and investigated,” she says. “And if you don’t find anything, then you can re-establish: Here’s the trust that you thought you were missing. The voting process in this country is a sacred process, and people need to be able to believe in it.”

“We want to make sure people understand that even though these things are being debunked, they’re still taken seriously,” Dillard adds. “But contact your election office [or] your clerk and recorder. Don’t post stuff on Facebook and Nextdoor.”

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