Buck Koppes Broerman Guynes Zoom

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, lower left, the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, takes part in an online town hall about the operation of Colorado's election systems with GOP clerks and recorders, clockwise from top left, Carly Koppes of Weld County, Chuck Broerman of El Paso County and Tressa Guynes of Montrose County, on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020.

The grassroots weren't buying it.

Soon after Ken Buck finished emceeing an online town hall convened the evening of Dec. 2 to defend the integrity of Colorado's election, some of the Colorado GOP chairman's critics took to social media to air their grievances.

"Anyone defending election integrity in the face of all this fraud is highly suspect," wrote one Coloradan on Facebook. "Did Dominion pay Buck for his endorsement?"

Buck, who was elected a month earlier to a fourth term in Congress, was joined by three GOP county clerks for the hour-long forum on the conservative social media site Caucus Room, during which the clerks answered questions submitted by Republicans skeptical about the conduct of the November election.

Speaking via videoconference, clerks Chuck Broerman of El Paso County, Carly Koppes of Weld County and Tressa Guynes of Montrose County covered just about every aspect of the state's all-mail balloting, from voter registration safeguards to regular tests and audits performed on counties' voting machines to ensure they're secure and accurate.

Roughly half the discussion was devoted to questions about equipment supplied by Dominion Voting Systems, used by 62 of Colorado's 64 counties and the target of attacks by President Donald Trump and his supporters, who have been waging a relentless war on the results of the 2020 election.

Trump and his allies have made increasingly unhinged claims about the Colorado-based company, alleging its voting machines deleted or switched millions of votes, handing the presidency to Democrat Joe Biden. The bizarre, debunked conspiracy theory links the company to dead Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, mysterious computer servers in Germany and a web of nearly every liberal bogeyman in the conservative pantheon.   

While most of the Trump team's unfounded allegations of massive election fraud are focused on a handful of swing states won by Biden, several other prominent Republicans and conservatives have raised concerns about Colorado's vote, spurring Buck to organize the event in order to lay fears to rest.

"It’s so important for us to understand that our votes are not being manipulated," Buck said at the conclusion of the town hall. "It is so important that people have confidence in their election, that people understand that in Colorado — I can’t speak for other states — but in Colorado, we’re doing it the right way and we can have confidence in our election results."

Joe Oltmann, the founder of conservative political group FEC United and a theorist behind some of the allegations involving Dominion, responded sharply the next day to Buck's conclusion in a widely shared Facebook post.

"Ken Buck... your call tonight is bull—," Oltmann wrote. "Dominion Voting Systems is a fraud and Colorado data shows a massive fraud. I don’t believe in eating our own but you are full of sh—. I am so angry."

He went on to urge people to call Buck, adding, "... he literally is either complicit or frankly ignorant. Politics ... the definition [is] destroy and betray the people."

Among the Facebook users who reacted to Oltmann's post were the two most recent Republican nominees in the 7th Congressional District, Mark Barrington and Casper Stockham, who both lost to Democrat Ed Perlmutter by double digits.

Stockham expressed unhappiness with Buck in a comment, suggesting that the incumbent could face a primary challenge in two years.

"Ken's voting record is that of a solid conservative but he has lost his ability to truly fight for the citizens of Colorado," Stockham wrote. "He has become just another swamp creator who he wrote about in his book 'Drain The Swamp'!"

A woman wrote: "I will never believe there wasn't fraud in Colorado!"

Buck, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus and possibly the most conservative politician Colorado has sent to Congress in at least a decade, drew ire from fellow Republicans, including one who pegged the state chairman with the acronym for "Republican in Name Only."

"RINO's! Hearing them all bow down daily! They have no loyalty! They are riding a coat tail that's about to get ripped out from under them!" wrote one.

"Ken is a 'Never Trump' GOP conservative, isn't he?" asked another.

Enthused another: "If this is not evidence that Ken Buck, and those 'experts' on the call are Deep State [shills], than I don't know what is. It explains a LOT about the state of Conservative politics here in Colorado! TIME FOR A CHANGE OF LEADERSHIP!!! Colorado needs a grassroots GOP, not an establishment GOP like the one we've had for decades!!! It's time to sift the wheat!"

Buck's detractors aren't alone distrusting Colorado's election results.

Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, an attorney who taught undergraduates at Lakewood's Colorado Christian University before joining the president's legal team, alleged during a Nov. 19 appearance on KHOW radio that Dominion machines might have been responsible for changing the outcome in some Colorado elections.

"We are seeing how Dominion may have swung some of the state and local races in Colorado as well,” Ellis told talk show host Dan Caplis in remarks first reported by the Colorado Times-Recorder.

Broerman told Colorado Politics he's confident that didn't happen, pointing to numerous procedures El Paso and the other counties employ to secure every aspect of voting in Colorado.

"I've talked to a lot of folks in the course of the days and weeks since the election," he said. "When I walk through all the layers of security, the checks and balances, all the careful security, the state statutes and rules that go into our election process — most people, once you go through all that and answer their questions — most people, they’re in a better place of understanding."

He added: "Judge Colorado on Colorado’s system, not on what other people may or may not be doing."

Koppes, the Weld County clerk, told Colorado Politics that she was glad to have the chance to dispel some rumors and clear up misconceptions about Colorado's voting system but conceded that not everyone will be satisfied.

"Elections are a passion for me — the integrity of elections is a huge passion for me," she said. "There’s just going to be some people, no matter how much facts and truth we present to them, they’re just not going to believe it."

She said she can understand how candidates and supporters who wind up on the losing side of an election can have trouble dealing with the results, recalling that tempers ran hot over the 2000 presidential race and the contested recount in Florida. 

"The combination of a whole lot of things in 2020 are leading to a certain passion about things," she said. "It’s been a challenging year. Everybody’s dealing with a lot. It’s been a very stressful, stressful year. This definitely could have been the last straw that broke the camel’s back. It is very difficult when the candidate is not successful in their bid."

Calling herself "an election geek," Koppes said it's been "a silver lining" that she's had the opportunity to explain to so many people how transparent and secure Colorado's elections are.

"With every growing day and week and month, people will come to terms with the outcome of the election, though there will always be some people who will never come to terms," she said. "The majority of people will understand this really is our greatest privilege as an American citizen and this is our voice. Hopefully in 2022, we’ll set another turnout record for (a midterm) election and set another turnout record in 2024."

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