Colorado Secretary of State closes investigation into Douglas County clerk and recorder

Griswold: “[M]y office is satisfied that there is no current threat to the county’s election system."
Posted at 11:09 AM, Feb 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-10 13:09:37-05

DENVER – Douglas County Clerk and Recorder Merlin Klotz told the Secretary of State’s Office he did not create a full image backup of the county’s election system and used “the wrong terminology” in describing what transpired. The Secretary of State’s Office has closed its investigation.

On Tuesday, the Clerk and Recorder’s Office submitted answers to questions posed by Secretary of State Jena Griswold regarding potential election system security breaches involving the copying of election system hard drives.

Klotz separately submitted an additional letter explaining how his claims about the election systems ended up being posted by someone on the social media app Telegram.

“After receiving responses from Douglas County, my office is satisfied that there is no current threat to the county’s election system. We have concluded our investigation,” Griswold said in a statement Thursday. “As Secretary of State I will always do what is required to ensure that every Colorado voter, no matter their political affiliation, zip code, or amount of money in their bank account can make their voice heard in accessible and secure elections.”

On Feb. 3, Griswold ordered Klotz to answer a series of questions after discovering the Telegram post and sending questions to him in late January that went unanswered.

The Telegram post, allegedly made by Klotz, “stated that he submitted comments to the [Mike] Lindell legal team about log files and voting equipment passwords,” according to Griswold’s Feb. 3 order, which asked whether Lindell or any members of his so-called legal team been in contact with him about the hard drive images.

The post also said that a “full image backup of our server” was taken before an Aug. 16-17 trusted build of the voting system in Douglas County.

In their responses, the clerk and recorder’s office said no drive images or system backups were created by anyone with authorized access to the election systems and that no one gave access to anyone who should not have access to the secure voting system location.

“We are unaware of any direct or indirect contact or communications with anyone regarding the imaging of voting equipment in the State of Colorado or any other activity that would breach Colorado election rule, procedure, or law,” the clerk and recorder’s office said in a letter signed by Klotz and Deputy Clerk for Elections Jack Twite. “This includes anyone associated with Mike Lindell, other elected officials, or anyone else.”

The office also said that the premises where the election equipment is stored is under 24/7 surveillance and restricted access.

Klotz wrote in the supplemental letter that the Telegram post “has caused confusion and concern that is ultimately unwarranted.” He said it was taken out of context from a private email and “was never intended to be an exacting recitation of events.”

“The email used inexact wording that was simply incorrect in a legal context. No one has made an illegal or unauthorized image of any Douglas County election data or hard drive information. Only a standard and required back-up was created and the original email had intended to relay only that a data back-up was in place at the time of the SOS’s ‘Trusted Build,’” Klotz wrote.

He went on to say he used the wrong terminology by saying a “full image” had been backed up and that his office was doing its typical backup of the server before the trusted build.

“I do regret that I used the wrong terminology in trying to describe the backup process to the voter. There was no ‘full image backup’ and the posting to social medial is incorrect,” Klotz wrote. “I personally do not have key card access to the restricted voting areas and I did not at any time directly or through County staff have or allow any unauthorized access to the voting equipment or data and no full image back-up was ever created or allowed.”

Griswold’s office said the investigation found neither Klotz nor any other third party had access to create unauthorized hard drive images and that the investigation in Douglas County was closed.

But Elbert County Clerk and Recorder Dallas Schroeder remains under investigation for alleged copying of the Elbert County voting system hard drives. Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters stands accused of helping a non-election worker copy Mesa County’s voting system hard drive as well. She currently is under investigation by a grand jury in Mesa County, was barred by Griswold from overseeing the 2021 election, and Griswold is seeking the same for the 2022 elections.