Elections expert, Sec. of State respond to allegations of election system data destruction, insecurity

Mesa Co. Clerk and Recorder alleges county voting equipment should not be certified
Sec. of State, Elections Expert Respond to Clerk Tina Peters' Allegations
Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 10:40 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - David Levine, elections expert and former election official, read over and shared his thoughts on the report Mesa Co. Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters (R) submitted to the Mesa Co. Board of Commissioners on Fri, Sept. 17. The report alleges almost 30,000 files were lost during a routine maintenance operation on the county’s voting equipment on May 25, 2021 called a “trusted build.”

Levine is also an Elections Integrity Fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy. The Alliance is a part of the German Marshall Fund for the United States, a nonpartisan public policy think tank based in Washington, D.C. Levine is saying that, according to the report, the records allegedly lost during the May 25 maintenance operation were event logs, which he argued were not critical election system information.

Previously, on Mon. Sept., 20, Clerk Peters explained in an interview that, “Behind my back and contrary to prior representations, many of these records were destroyed by the Secretary of State and the vendor, and preventing any audit of the 2020 election. This appears to be a serious crime. But thanks to my arranging for a forensic image, the ems servers, just beforehand, those records are preserved.”

Levine explained that those files are not necessary to perform an audit of an election. He and the Sec. of State’s office are also saying that event logs are not records protected under federal election law.

According to Levine, ”I read the brief that was submitted by Ms. Peter’s, and I want to be mindful because there’s ongoing state and federal investigations, and I’m not on the ground, but there doesn’t appear... to be a smoking gun here.”

Levine also outlined his view that the report lacks compelling evidence connecting the loss of event log files to a concerning lapse in voting equipment security.

As previously reported, the Sec. of State Jena Griswold (D) has filed a lawsuit to remove Clerk Peters as the county’s Designated Election Official. Her office released a statement detailing its position. It includes statements taken from a legal brief filed before the courts. “‘The Secretary would have no objection to a county backing up its log files for its voting systems — in fact, Larimer County requested to backup their log files prior to a trusted build, and the Department of State helped Larimer County perform such a backup,’ the brief states. ‘Instead, Peters made copies of the entire hard drive, exposing the security of the entire election system when those copies were posted on the Internet.’”

The Sec. of State is also arguing that, “According to the Colorado Election Code, election records include items such as: accounting forms, certificates of registration, pollbooks, certificates of election, signature cards, all affidavits, voter applications, other voter lists and records, mail ballot return envelopes, voted ballots, unused ballots, spoiled ballots, and replacement ballots. None of these items were named in the ‘report’ produced by Peters. As the brief states, ‘there is not a single allegation in the counterclaims or anything in the ‘report’ attached to the counterclaims showing that any such record was destroyed during the trusted build, or that any record similar in kind to those listed in the statute was destroyed.’”

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