Mesa County DA’s report proves county elections were accurate
Video evidence disproves election deniers’ assertions that files were deleted nefariously
(DENVER – May 19, 2022) – An investigative report released by the Mesa County District Attorney’s office proves with video evidence that issues with Mesa County’s voting system were not the result of nefarious plot to steal elections during the 2020 and 2021 election cycles but were the result of Mesa County election workers who had inadvertently set up election software incorrectly and were attempting to fix their initial error.
The investigative revelation strikes at the heart of a recent report released by election deniers and their supporters in Mesa County which claimed that certain types of votes were either deleted from the system altogether or were somehow switched. Instead, the district attorney’s investigative report makes it clear that election workers in the county intentionally deleted some data files so they could correct their initial errors and ensure an accurate count.
“This is what clerks have been saying for months. The elections in Mesa County and across the state of Colorado are fair, accurate and safe,” said Matt Crane, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association. “The election workers in Mesa County were simply correcting an error. But like all of these so-called reports from election deniers, they misunderstand how the system works, misunderstand election law and then draw false conclusions from those misunderstandings. We appreciate what Mesa County investigators have done to clear the record.”
At issue is a March report by a group focused on helping defend embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters with her legal defense that proports to prove the “unauthorized creation of new election databases” during early voting of the 2020 General Election as well as the 2021 Grand Junction Municipal Election. The group has released three reports on Mesa County elections. The report investigated by Mesa County officials was the third report. District attorney investigators said they selected only the third report for review because it was the only report to make direct claims of election tampering that could be investigated.
As part of their report, Mesa County district attorney released video evidence of the issue in question, proving that on both counts the group’s assertions were wrong and entirely misunderstand the election system. Because of this, their report draws false conclusions about what occurred. In addition, Mesa County investigators noted that none of the individuals citied in the group’s report who oversaw the two elections in question nor the individuals who wrote the report would speak to county investigators.
The questions stem from adjudication software used in voting systems across the state and nation. This software is intended to catch ballots that have irregularities that increase the likelihood they might be counted incorrectly. Ballots caught by this system are sequestered and reviewed individually to ensure that voter intent is preserved. During elections, filters on this software are set to capture “over votes.” That means the system looks for ballots that appear to have been marked more than one time for a single question or candidate race. The system is typically not set to capture “under votes.” That means the system does not look for ballots where the voter left a specific question or candidate race blank.
According to the report from Mesa County investigators, election workers are captured on video dealing with issues related to the filter set for which ballots would be sent for further review. When issues arose from these settings, election workers reset the software and began to recount the ballots. In order to not mix the new log of votes that needed to be checked with the old log of votes that needed to be checked, the initial database created was deleted. This entire process including the initial errors and their correction for both the general and municipal elections was caught on video provided by the county district attorney. Continuous video monitoring of all election-related equipment is required under Colorado law for the 30 days leading up to an election, the election tabulation process and for 30 days after each election.
“The systems we use for voting across our state are not only secure, but they give us the highest probability of ensuring that every vote cast is counted correctly. For people who truly understand elections and election systems, what the district attorney found was the only logical and plausible explanation,” Crane said. “It’s unfortunate that bad actors are trying to use their own misunderstanding of our systems to cast doubt on our elections with these amateur reports.”
About the Colorado County Clerks Association
The Colorado County Clerks Association (CCCA) is a non-governmental entity; its members consist of the 64 County Clerks of Colorado and their designee. Each Clerk and Recorder's Office is responsible for issuing and recording marriage licenses, recording all real estate transactions, issuing liquor licenses, registering voters, conducting all primary, general and county elections, and, when contracted, municipal and school district elections. The Clerk and Recorder's Office also operates the Motor Vehicle Divisions in the State of Colorado for titling vehicles and issuing license plates.
Guest commentary: Don’t let the dishonest actors distract you, Colorado elections are safe and accurate
‘County clerks across the state finally have to say, enough is enough.’
By Matt Crane
November 23, 2021
False claims of voter fraud are not new. Losing candidates from both political parties have made these claims going back decades. However, in my 21 years as an election administrator, I have never seen such an assault on the truth and blatant disregard for the facts about election administration as we have witnessed over the last 12 months.
County clerks across the state finally have to say, enough is enough.
As misinformation and disinformation has circulated about the accuracy and integrity of our elections, our county clerks have patiently tried to answer questions and educate on how the election process actually works.
Now, a fringe group is calling on our volunteer citizen canvass boards, who ultimately certify election results, to refuse to do so, even before clerks have been able to present them with a shred of election-related data. This call exposes the reality of these election conspiracy groups for what they are: ideologically driven people with no interest in facts.
Over the last year, clerks across the state have had to deal with death threats, physical threats, and menacing. Grifters and bad actors have taken precious resources in our clerks’ offices and even caused some clerks to spend taxpayer dollars to retrofit their offices to safeguard their staff from harm. During this time, clerks have diligently followed up on each one of the questions and requests for information they have received. Clerks have taken time away from other duties to explain the process, given tours and met with anyone who asks, all in an attempt to help their community members better understand how they have been misinformed about the way elections work.
Now, 12 months after the last general election and on the heels of our most recent election, these election conspiracy devotees continue to spread disinformation, either because they are making money on the grift or because they refuse to listen to facts or deal in any reality that does not conform to the fantasy world they have created where election officials can single-handedly alter election results as part of some kind of collective national scam. During the 2018 General Election, which many of these people also believe was stolen, I’ll note for you that I was the Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder. I lost that election, and while I wasn’t happy with the result, it was an accurate, fair, and secure election. So much for wielding the power to single-handedly alter an election.
While all of this nonsense has swirled around our county clerks, other elected officials have remained oddly silent. It would seem they have a genuine stake in the results of the elections, as their ability to govern is rooted first and foremost in the free and fair elections that put them in office. It’s likely they don’t want to draw the attention and the ire of the election conspiracy types. Across the country, we have seen them harass people, post their personal information online and in some cases threaten bodily harm.
Your county clerks, on the other hand, don’t have the luxury of silence. You elected them to run accurate and secure elections, among their many other important duties. I can assure you that your county clerks are doing just that. In fact, they are running the best, most emulated elections in the country. While no election is perfect, you can and should trust that elections in Colorado are both accessible and secure.
And while we’re talking about county clerks, let’s remember who they are. They are your neighbors, your fellow church members and your high school sports boosters. They live down the block and some of you might have known them since grade school. As part of their role to run transparent elections, they recruit other members of your community to come in and check their work. They ask for volunteers, again who you know from down the street, to monitor their efforts and report out to you on what they saw.
Our free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy. There isn’t a single county clerk running elections in 2021 who doesn’t understand that and take the heavy responsibility with deadly seriousness. But they can’t do it alone. They need you to stand up and be counted in this moment. Will you side with facts, reason and your community members? Or will you help to tear our elections down? Will you stand with clerks who are trying to push back on this misinformation and disinformation and set the record straight? Or will you be silent while this small group of individuals committed to public service and running fair and secure elections takes a beating? The time has come to choose. Your hard-working county clerks have made their choice. Time for you to make yours.
Matt Crane is executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, a former clerk and recorder for Arapahoe County, and an election subject matter expert.
This piece also ran in the Greeley Tribune.