Colorado legislators clash over election integrity hearing

DENVER | A top legal advisor to President Donald Trump was among those testifying at a Tuesday hearing called by Republican state lawmakers to look into any irregularities concerning Colorado’s mail-in voting system — a system praised by both major parties as among the nation’s safest and responsible for the largest turnouts in the U.S. in 2020.

The reason for and timing of the Legislative Audit Committee hearing, called by Republican committee chair Rep. Lori Saine of Weld County, befuddled many, coming a day after the Electoral College certified Joe Biden’s presidential win. Saine told fellow lawmakers its goal was to put to rest “any doubt” about election irregularities in the state.

“The election belongs to the people of Colorado and that question deserves our utmost focus and attention,” she said.

Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign, implored the panel to investigate Dominion Voting Systems, reiterating debunked claims that the company’s voting machines software altered the result of the presidential election.

Elections officials have repeatedly denounced statements questioning Colorado’s election integrity, and Dominion has refuted claims about any deleted or changed votes.

Secretary of State Jena Griswold noted in written testimony that Dominion software has been widely used in Colorado since 2015 and, in some districts, going back to the 1990s.

“No evidence of wrongdoing has been presented against Dominion concerning its use and performance in this election or any other. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the Dominion Voting software operated in this election anyway other than flawlessly,” Griswold said.

Colorado voting systems are routinely tested through audit procedures, and Dominion Systems have been successfully tested more than 800 times, Griswold added.

Democratic lawmakers grew angry with the lack of Colorado-specific evidence of any wrongdoing or problems presented to the panel Tuesday. One, Sen. Rhonda Fields, said using public funds for the hearing was a waste.

“I just think this is ridiculous,” Fields said.

Ellis tried to link suburban Jefferson County’s adoption of Dominion systems with the county’s shift to Democratic and unaffiliated voters on recent elections — a demographic shift seen throughout Colorado. Democratic Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp scoffed at Ellis’ argument.

Pam Anderson, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, told the committee there were no instances of voter fraud found in Colorado after the independent audits and hand-counting processes that occurred following the election.

“By implying that we haven’t done that either ignores or is ignorant of the things that take place under the law that the General Assembly set, that we are sworn to uphold,” Anderson said. “Due diligence was done throughout this process.”

Anderson encouraged the panel to take a tour of ballot processing centers, noting that the county clerks received no responses to invitations extended to lawmakers last year.

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Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

 

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