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Colorado Investigates Second Clerk Over Election Data Breach

Elbert County Clerk and Recorder Dallas Schroeder has allegedly copied a voting system’s hard drive and has been summoned for a deposition. This is the second election official to be investigated for a potential security breach.

(TNS) — Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold's office is investigating a second county clerk over a possible elections security breach and has ordered Elbert County Clerk and Recorder Dallas Schroeder to turn over information related to allegations that he copied a voting system hard drive.

The Democratic secretary of state ordered the Republican county clerk to appear at a deposition Feb. 7 to explain how the copy of the 2021 Dominion Voting Systems hard drive was made after Griswold's office said Schroeder did not respond to an email request and an election order requiring the disclosure of information about the "potential security protocol breach." She also asked that video surveillance of voting equipment be turned on and that no one access the voting equipment unaccompanied.

"As Secretary of State, my top priority is to ensure that every eligible Coloradan — Republican, Democrat, and Independent, alike — has access to secure elections and I will always protect Colorado's election infrastructure," Griswold said in a statement.

The secretary of state's office said it doesn't believe the "unauthorized imaging has created an imminent or direct security risk to Colorado's elections" because of when it took place.

This is not the first time the secretary of state's office has launched an investigation over copies of election equipment hard drives. Last year, Griswold's office sued Republican Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters over allegations of a security breach, resulting in a judge barring Peters from overseeing the 2021 election, and the secretary of state's office is also trying to stop Peters from overseeing the 2022 election. Peters is still facing multiple lawsuits, ethics investigations and a grand jury investigation of a possible elections breach in her office.

Schroeder is part of a lawsuit against Griswold's office calling for an "independent forensic audit" of the 2020 election, a common refrain for those pushing baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. As part of the filings, the secretary of state's office said Schroeder signed an affidavit, dated Jan. 7, which states that he "made a forensic image of everything on the election server, and I saved the image to a secure external hard drive that is kept under lock and key in the Elbert County elections office" before the "trusted build" process took place.

The "trusted build" is a routine update against vulnerabilities, according to the secretary of state's office.

Colorado House GOP Rep. Ron Hanks of Fremont County filed the lawsuit initially but a judge granted his request to withdraw earlier this month, with Hanks citing his work at the legislature and 2022 campaign for U.S. Senate. Other plaintiffs include Douglas County Clerk and Recorder Merlin Klotz, Rio Blanco County commissioners Gary Moyer and Jeff Rector, and Park County Commissioner Amy Mitchell.

Griswold's office has refuted the claims in the legal complaint, saying they're based on unfounded election conspiracy theories, and her office filed to dismiss the lawsuit. The plaintiffs have filed a motion asking to amend their complaint.

In the affidavit, Schroeder states that he learned that the "trusted build" deleted election records in Mesa County — something Peters has claimed in her own legal battle with the secretary of state's office.

Schroeder did not respond to a request for comment from The Denver Post on Monday.


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