Mistrust in Dominion Voting Systems, Inc. and a desire to satisfy those who doubt the validity of elections overseen by that organization recently prompted Park County Commissioners to spend $13,500 for an outside agency to double-check Dominion’s work and recount votes that were cast Nov. 2.

County Clerk and Recorder Debra Green, who did not respond to calls and messages seeking her input for this story, led the charge to hire Clear Ballot Group, Inc. as a means of verifying Dominion’s  final tabulation of votes.

Commissioner Amy Mitchell, who emphatically insists that Dominion cannot be trusted, wanted the votes in Park County to be hand-counted. That option would have also been less expensive.

Ironically, despite her misgivings about Dominion, Mitchell ultimately voted against hiring Clear Ballot Inc. while comissioners Richard Elsner and Ray Douglas voted “yes” on the measure.

“Our clerk wanted to bring in Clear Ballot counting machines after Dominion counted them,” Mitchell said. “But Clear Ballot machinescan be manipulated just as Domion machines can. There are citizens who are frustrated and who do not trust Dominion, and I thought a hand-count with new election judges could have helped to ease some of those concerns, rather than one machine being used to check the work of another machine.”

While Green chose not to comment on these matters for this story, she did comment on these issues at a commissioner’s meeting in late-October. Those comments were included in an Oct. 29 story by Lynda James, senior correspondent for The Flume:

“I feel I have been chastised for upgrading the ballot machines for the 2020 election and putting Park County voters first,” Green said. “And also chastised for bringing Clear Ballot, the other certified voting equipment in Colorado, in to count the 2021 November election (ballots) after Park County certifies the 2021 (Dominion results) election.”

Levels of mistrust skyrocketed among conservatives following the 2020 Presidential Election, which former President Donald Trump still maintains was stolen from him. Many law suits were filed by the Trump administration hoping to have the election results overturned, but in virtually every instance  judges either ruled against the former president or dismissed the cases altogether on grounds that there was no merit to claims that the election was stolen or mishandled by Dominion.

According to all parties interviewed for this story, that public mistrust in voting results has also permeated throughout Park County.

Commissioner Elsner expressed a very different perspective than Mitchell and indicated in a phone interview with The Flume that he had no misgivings about Dominion and that his reason for voting “yes” to hiring Clear Ballot was to support Green.

“My reason for voting yes was to support our clerk and her efforts,” Elner said. “I hated spending the money, but Debra has been attacked and chastised a lot by people who doubt recent election results.”

Elsner also astutely pointed out in a recent meeting of the commissioners that all of the current sitting commissioners were elected using Dominion to talley votes.

Comissioner Douglas also spoke with The Flume and indicated that his primary reasons for voting to hire Clear Ballot were to support Green and to hopefully restore trust in Dominion.

“Hiring Clear Ballot was sort of like getting a second opinion from a doctor,” Douglas said. “You might trust the doctor who gave you the first opinion, but that doesn’t mean getting a second opinion is necessarily a bad idea.”

Douglas pointed out that the Dominion voting system is currently used by all but two of the 64 counties in Colorado.

“I personaly don’t believe there is any evidence that Dominion is not reliable, and virtually every county in the state uses them,” Douglas said. “But hopefully this process will actually add accredidation to Dominion, and I think what we will spend for Clear Ballot will be well worth it simply for everyone’s peace of mind.”

Finally, Douglas stated that the final price tag might be considerably less than $13,500 and that the money used to pay for Clear Ballot’s services has already been budgeted for and was set aside for a potential recall that never materialized.

“It’s not like this is coming out of the general fund,” Douglas said. “This is money that Debra already had available in the event of a recall.

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