Griswold Voting Safety Colorado

In this file photo, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold speaks during a news conference about the the state’s efforts to protect election security on Oct. 15, 2020, in downtown Denver.

Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold is permanently adopting the emergency rules rolled out earlier this summer to block future efforts at an Arizona-style “forensic audit” conducted by a third-party, her office announced Thursday.

The rules, first implemented in June, block what Griswold labeled as “sham election audits” by banning 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.

That ties in to the ongoing investigation of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who Griswold’s office determined allowed an unauthorized person identified as Gerald Wood to record a software update procedure known as a "trusted build," including images of screens that showed system passwords.

A video that displayed those passwords surfaced online earlier this month on the social media site Telegram and on the right-wing Gateway Pundit blog.

Wood, Griswold said, is not a county employee, and there is no evidence he has passed the criminal background check that would allow him to be present for the activity. She also charged that Peters later claimed falsely that Wood was an employee.

Peters hasn't responded to multiple requests for comment from Colorado Politics. Vice News reported last week Peters was "holed up" at an undisclosed location secured by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, an election conspiracy theorist and prominent supporter of former President Donald Trump.

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

Violation of the standard can result in “the prohibition or limitation on the use of, as well as decertification of, a county’s voting system or components.” That happened in Mesa County, where Griswold last week issued an order prohibiting the county from using election equipment she said was compromised by Peters and Wood.

The rules also drew more than 400 written comments and testimony from dozens of people, many who repeated debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, during a hearing on election rules earlier this month.

That hearing was originally intended to craft election rules tied to legislation passed in the 2021 session, Senate Bills 250 and 188, though response to the emergency rules dominated the conversation.

Along with the emergency rules, the notice of adoption filed Thursday also adopts rules to implement those two bills as well as updates petition review rules and watcher and canvass rules and cleans up language on other rules.

According to Griswold’s office, the rules will become permanently effective twenty days after publication in the Colorado Register.

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