Well, she’s at it again. Jena Griswold, our current Secretary of State, a couple months ago publicly stated that Colorado’s election system was the “gold standard” of the entire country. She then followed that up by signing an order prohibiting any audits of election equipment by third parties. What is she afraid they will find? Now she is attempting to change many of the rules that protect our election process. Here are some of her proposed changes.

She wants to eliminate Rule 7.7.13a which mandates signature verification equipment be tested prior to use in an election. I have been a judge for 20 years. We used to have a Democrat and a Republican judge sit side by side and check every mail-in envelope against signatures on file from various government transactions such as licenses or property purchases. They recently went to using equipment to do those scans and comparisons as long as the equipment passed a thorough validation of integrity. What is the purpose in doing away with the test of such a vital component of our gold standard process?

She wants to change Rules 8.10.2 through 8.13, which allow poll watchers to challenge discrepancies on signatures on mail-in envelopes. Keep in mind this is just a challenge, and the ballot can still be counted if it can be shown the signature is valid or the voter confirms this is his or her signature. Isn’t this the purpose in having poll watchers?

She wants to “improve” Rule 8.14, meaning make it easier to remove poll watchers, including those trained and certified by her own department.

Her changes for Rule 9.2.2 will increase the barriers to removing dead voters from the voter registration. This has long been acknowledged across the country as a significant threat to voter integrity. Even when two bipartisan judges have determined a voter should be removed, a single challenge by one judge from any party will prevent that from happening. In addition, she is moving the responsibility for removing inactive voters from the rolls from the county clerks to her office in Denver. Wouldn’t a local clerk have better knowledge and access to better records than an overwhelmed staff at a state office?

Secretary Griswold also wants to eliminate tracking logs. This includes logs of persons using the administrative functions of the system to change which ballots are accepted and rejected, change of custody logs and transfer logs for equipment that is left unattended at polling places, tracking of serial numbers on voting equipment, and placing of security seals on equipment left overnight. Again, as an experienced judge I can tell you maintaining these logs and seals takes very little time over the course of our day, and these logs and seals are verified by judges from both major parties to ensure integrity. What is gained by eliminating these procedures? These changes would eliminate the ability to do any meaningful audits after the election in the event of challenges.

Every county currently has a bipartisan citizen canvass board. These citizens do samples of batches of ballots that were processed by electronic equipment. When discrepancies in vote totals for individual batches are found, the board investigates and corrects official tallies. Secretary Griswold’s new rules would eliminate the authority for these citizens to identify and correct errors, balance the numbers, or contact election judges to get clarification on issues. Ensuring the machines got the votes correct after the election is the primary purpose of these boards so that the populace can have confidence in our election results.

If all these changes are adopted, significant safeguards for voter identification and ballot security will be removed and logs critical to post-election audits will no longer be produced. It will be impossible to say there was not large scale fraudulence in any election. It is one of her primary duties to protect elections, not change them to a free-for-all.

Republicans are frequently accused in the media of trying to prevent segments of our population from voting. The only voters we do not want to see are the illegal ones (dead, undocumented, current felons, moved out of state). To cry out that showing identification is a deterrent is just a sham, as there is plenty of tobacco and alcohol in our lower class communities. Verification of signatures is required to cash a paycheck or government subsidy. Republicans have not tried to prevent the newer trend toward early polling places in states like Texas and Georgia. In fact, they have extended those hours. Let’s get back to a system that is fair and verifiable so all the legal voters can have their voice without being overridden by fraud and abuse.

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