Douglas County clerk third in Colorado to face election security breach investigation

Sec. Griswold says Telegram post about copying of hard drive attributed to Clerk Klotz
Posted at 4:35 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 12:00:55-05

DENVER – A third Colorado clerk faces investigation by Colorado’s secretary of state’s office over possible breaches of the county’s election security protocols and alleged copying of election system hard drives.

Douglas County Clerk and Recorder Merlin Klotz was ordered Thursday by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold to answer questions regarding a post made on Telegram last year, which is attributed to him, about making a “full image backup of our server before a trusted build was done this year.”

The secretary of state’s office said the potential breach happened before the Aug. 16-17 trusted build of Douglas County’s voting system and that it does not believe any copies of the system hard drives that were made have created a security risk for Colorado’s elections.

That is similar to what the office said about Elbert County Clerk and Recorder Dallas Schroeder’s alleged copying of the Elbert County voting system hard drives.

“While anomalies were not discovered at the time of the 2021 trusted build, this new information requires an investigation of whether there were violations of rules and statute during Clerk Klotz’s ‘full. Image backup’ of the election server,” states an order sent to Klotz on Thursday by Griswold’s office.

Klotz is a Republican who is among a host of GOP officials, also including Schroeder, who sued Griswold, a Democrat, in November, claiming the election software used by Colorado counties in the 2020 election was not properly certified. Griswold’s office has said the suit was “based on multiple unfounded election conspiracy theories.”

Thursday’s order says the Department of State sent Klotz an email asking questions about the Telegram post and the claims made within it on Jan. 28 but that he did not respond.

The new order requires Klotz to provide information on the dates he or others created images of the election system hard drives and how, along with more question on who has had access to the images and the chain of custody. Douglas County is one of the only counties in the state that uses a ClearVote voting system and not a Dominion system.

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 order, which asks whether Lindell or any members of his so-called legal team been in contact with him about the hard drive images.

Klotz is also ordered to tell the secretary of state anyone else he communicated with about copying hard drive images.

Along with he and Schroeder, 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.

Klotz said in an email late Thursday he was "not free to discuss the case" because of the pending lawsuit.

"I would suggest you familiarize yourself with the case," he said.

“As Secretary of State, I will continue to protect Colorado’s election infrastructure to ensure that every eligible Coloradan – Republican, Democrat, and Independent, alike – has access to secure elections,” Griswold said in a statement.