While Rudy Giuliani was waving a finger — and just about everything else, including conspiracy theories and trickling hair dye — at Dominion Voting Systems with his voter-fraud accusations at a November 19 press conference, a Republican came out to defend the company's work...at least in its home state of Colorado.
“We know that no one in Beijing or Moscow or anywhere else changed the programming or tampered with the machines, because we compare the actual paper ballots to how the machine is counting that particular ballot,” says former Colorado secretary of state Wayne Williams, referring to the risk-limiting audit introduced in the state in 2017, under his watch. “You’ve got to have a way of ensuring that you actually have accurate counts. In Colorado, we can prove that.”
Williams, who is now a member of the Colorado Springs City Council, started discussing the voting-fraud accusations in a November 17 Facebook post.
“Some folks have asked me about Colorado's voting systems,” the post begins. “After an exhaustive administrative, legislative, and legal review, many Colorado counties began using the federally certified Dominion Voting System in 2016. Since its adoption, Dominion machines have been tested in 62 Colorado counties at least 807 times. They have passed every test …. So, while I can't speak for the practices of every state (some of whom don't have the procedural protections and audits we do in Colorado), I can state that in Colorado the voting systems we use accurately record the votes of Coloradans — and we've proved it 807 times.”
The post goes into detail about those 807 tests, breaking them down into the logic and accuracy tests conducted before state elections and the audits conducted after. The data came from the Secretary of State’s Office, Williams says.
Dominion Voting Systems is one of the most widely used voting equipment companies in the country, providing equipment to more than 1,300 jurisdictions, including 62 Colorado counties, according to its website. (Williams says the number now is actually 61: Douglas, Garfield and San Juan counties use systems from another company.)
The rumors about vote-rigging made possible by Dominion started even before some polls closed on November 3. President Donald Trump has been tweeting repeatedly about “the horrendous Dominion Voting System,” and Giuliani is leading the legal charge to throw out votes in many states.
The company first came under the national magnifying glass after a handful of counties reported issues with Dominion equipment. A Michigan county’s clerk failure to update software caused a temporary misallocation of votes to Joe Biden, and some Georgia counties said machines did not work on election day. Dominion addressed these accusations, as well as others in a statement posted on November 13. “Dominion Voting Systems categorically denies false assertions about vote switching and software issues with our voting systems,” it began.
But as the rumors kept flying, Dominion updated its "Setting the Record Straight" statement on November 19:
"The latest flood of absurdities is deeply concerning, not just for Dominion but also for our dedicated state and local partners and the electoral process on whole,” it says. “Dominion is plainly a non-partisan American company with no ties to Venezuela or Cuba. Vote counts are conducted by county and state election officials, not by Dominion, or any other election technology company — our systems support tabulation by those officials alone. Our voting systems are designed and certified by the U.S. government to be closed and do not rely on network connectivity. Dominion did not switch votes, rig elections, or engage in any election fraud. Dominion doesn't even operate in some of the contested districts, including Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Dane, WI.”
The updated statement takes on some of the new conspiracy theories, including denying any connection to competing company Smartmatic, which is among Giuliani's charges. Smartmatic was incorporated in the U.S. but has multiple founders from Venezuela; its equipment has been used in Venezuelan elections.
Dominion established its U.S. headquarters in downtown Denver in 2009. Its prominence in Colorado voting dates back to a 2013 decision to improve election security and make Colorado's voting system uniform. The state set standards for companies that wanted to supply Colorado counties with voting equipment, in order to ensure that any new systems could be part of a risk-limiting audit, during which counties select random ballots to double-check by hand.
In 2015, then-Secretary of State Williams announced that the state was in negotiations with Dominion Voting Systems, the only corporation that met this requirement, and that counties would have to get any new equipment from Dominion.
Today Williams points out that the decision to work with Dominion was not his alone; his office worked with a review committee that oversaw a piloting process for four different voting machine companies. After the decision was announced, two counties and other vendors sued over the state’s refusal to allow purchasing from certain other companies, he adds, and the courts ruled in the state’s favor. (Recently, the state did give counties the option of submitting an application to purchase equipment from a second company, Clear Ballot.)
“It’s not something that someone just woke up one day and said, ‘Hey, let’s do this!’’’ Williams says. “It’s a pretty deliberative process, and it continues to be tested in every single election, and at least with the processes Colorado has in place, it has passed every single time.”
This year's RLA started November 16 in counties across the state, under current Secretary of State Jena Griswold. "Colorado just completed the statewide post-election risk-limiting audit, which is an audit that provides a high statistical confidence in the election results," she says in a statement issued mid-afternoon on November 20. "Colorado voters can rest assured that their voices have been heard and we look forward to certifying the 2020 General Election on November 30, notwithstanding any statutory recounts of local races.”
While Griswold's office has referred all questions about Dominion to that company (which has not responded to Westword's request for comment), her statement also offers this: “Colorado’s election model is considered the nation’s gold standard and has gained widespread bipartisan support since its implementation in 2013. With that in mind, unfounded claims and false narratives made by President Trump’s campaign legal team are deeply troubling."
Still, the rumors about Dominion show no signs of slowing down, and Williams continues to receive questions about the company. That inspired him to write his Facebook post, he says, and remind voters that they can trust the voting process.
In Colorado, at least.
This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. on November 20 to include Griswold's statement on the completion of the RLA.
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