DENVER — Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold is sending a stark warning to voters about what she believes is at stake in November.
Griswold, speaking to the Guardian over the weekend, said voting rights could be stripped away from many Americans within a matter of months depending on who is voted into office during the midterm election, a message she reiterated in an interview with Denver7 on Monday.
“Not all Americans risk their voting rights being substantially rolled back, but a lot do,” Griswold said. “Democracy is on the ballot across the nation with election deniers running up and down the ballot.”
In Colorado, some of the most outspoken election denying candidates were defeated in the June primary, such as Tina Peters and Ron Hanks. However, others, like U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, won their primaries and are on the November ballot.
Erik Aadland, who is running for Colorado’s 7th Congressional District seat, has questioned the 2020 election, saying in a speech caught on video in 2021 it was “absolutely rigged."
Meanwhile, gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl has faced criticism in recent months for picking Danny Moore to be her running mate. Moore was removed from his role leading the independent redistricting commission after he made several social media posts questioning the results of the 2020 election.
Griswold, who chairs the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, said while Colorado might have fewer election questioning candidates on the ballot, other states are seeing many more candidates, which could have serious consequences.
“There are nominees for secretary of state who are election deniers running in Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota and New Mexico, just to say a few. And I think what we can expect from these candidates is putting up barriers to make it harder for Americans to vote should they win,” Griswold said.
A recent Bloomberg article postulated that five states in the U.S. could decide whether the 2024 election can be stolen — Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Griswold said while our elections are secure, what happens in other states will inevitably affect Colorado.
“Colorado has the best elections in the country, but we are part of a country, and what happens in states across the nation affects who gets sent to Congress, who gets sent to the Senate, and who goes to the presidency, which has a direct effect back onto us,” she said.
Griswold, however, is in the middle of an election of her own. She’s running against Republican Pam Anderson, who is the former clerk and recorder of Jefferson County and a past executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association.
Unlike some of her fellow Republicans, Anderson has said she trusts Colorado’s election system.
“I absolutely trust the results of the 2020 election as they currently stand. I have been on the record from the beginning of my campaign and professionally as the clerk and recorder for Jeffco. As the executive director, I fought against this rhetoric,” Anderson said.
Anderson defeated Tina Peters and Mike O’Donnell in the June primary and said the primary was a way for voters to send a clear message about their priorities.
“The mis- and disinformation that we were seeing about Colorado elections was defeated soundly coming out of the primary. What we don't want is a general election,” Anderson said.
She said she’s not interested in the foreign policy on other states but is here to serve Colorado. Her goal is to bring professionalism back to the office and to take partisanship out of it.
“We have had a long history in Colorado of bipartisanship for our elections. It's created entrepreneurship and working across the aisle to have the best reforms in the country for access to our constitutional right and security of our elections. It's why we're a model. We should restore that sort of trust person that is a fair referee for our elections,” Anderson said.
Anderson said Griswold’s rhetoric about people potentially losing their voting rights is not helpful and won’t help restore trust in election systems.
“I believe that what she said about us losing our voting rights within months is just, again, another example of fear politics in order to elevate her profile to raise millions of dollars. That does not benefit Colorado,” she said.
Nevertheless, Griswold said there should be nothing partisan about trying to protect people’s right to vote, so she’s hoping people across the country will get out to vote in November to reject candidates who question the 2020 election.