Newcomer Griswold plans a fast start as next secretary of state

Secretary of State Jena Griswold.

Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold on Thursday implemented emergency rules aimed at thwarting future efforts at an Arizona-style “forensic audit” conducted by a third party.

The new rules ban county clerks from allowing access to voting machines unless that person has passed a background check and is performing a task with authorization from either the county clerk or Griswold’s office.

The rules also require that person to be either an employee of the county clerk’s office or Griswold’s office, an election judge or an employee of a company that provides voting machines to that county. Voting machine manufacturers often make employees available to service and update machines.

Those rules would block third parties, such as the Cyber Ninjas firm brought in by Republicans in the Arizona state Senate, from accessing voting machines.

Violation of that new standard can result in “the prohibition or limitation on the use of, as well as decertification of, a county’s voting system or components.”

The new rules also allow Griswold to investigate complaints of tampering with voting machines by installing uncertified components, breaking the chain of custody for a voting machine or repeated hardware failures or malfunctions. The findings of that investigation can result in the limitation, prohibition or decertification of a voting system.

Griswold’s office justified the move by saying adoption of the new rules on a temporary basis is necessary “given the public concern regarding rapidly increasing instances of purported ‘forensic audits’ conducted by unknown and unverified third parties nationwide.”

Colorado administers risk-limiting audits after statewide elections.

The much-maligned effort by Arizona state lawmakers has drawn headlines, but more limited efforts to re-litigate the 2020 presidential election are also underway in Wisconsin and Georgia. Republican lawmakers in the Pennsylvania statehouse are also agitating for an Arizona-style audit.

Those efforts have not yet penetrated the mainstream conservative discourse in Colorado, though Rep. Ron Hanks, R-Cañon City, was pictured by right-wing Twitter account @AuditWarRoom at the audit site last week.

Hanks noted during the failed no-confidence vote in Minority Leader Hugh McKean last week that he planned to visit the Grand Canyon State to observe the audit.

State GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown released a statement in response to the rules slamming Griswold as "a partisan hack who always misses the opportunity to lead."

According to the adoption notice, the rules go into effect immediately. A flowchart on the secretary of State’s rulemaking process shows emergency rules expire 120 days after the adopted date, though Griswold's office indicated it is seeking to make the rules permanent before they lapse.

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