Colorado Secretary of State logo - cube with a C in it

Colorado Secretary
of State Jena Griswold
www.coloradosos.gov
www.sos.state.co.us

Colorado Secretary of State logo - Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold

Picture of Secretary of State Jena Griswold

×
Colorado Secretary of State logo - cube with a C in it

Colorado
Secretary of State
Jena Griswold

×
Colorado state seal

News Release

Media contact
303-860-6903

Annie Orloff
annie.orloff@sos.state.co.us

Steve Hurlbert
steve.hurlbert@sos.state.co.us

State of Colorado
Department of State

1700 Broadway
Suite 550
Denver, CO 80290

Jena Griswold
Secretary of State

Chris Beall
Deputy Secretary of State

Colorado state seal

News Release

State of Colorado
Department of State

1700 Broadway
Suite 550
Denver, CO 80290

Jena Griswold
Secretary of State

Chris Beall
Deputy Secretary of State

Media contact
303-860-6903
Annie Orloff - annie.orloff@sos.state.co.us
Steve Hurlbert - steve.hurlbert@sos.state.co.us

Statement from Colorado Secretary of State’s Office Regarding an Official Order to Appoint Sheila Reiner and an Advisory Committee to Supervise Mesa County Elections

Denver, August 17, 2021 - Today, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office issued an Order to appoint Mesa County Treasurer Sheila Reiner to supervise all conduct of the Mesa County elections and establish a three-person advisory committee including Representative Janice Rich, Ouray Clerk and Recorder Michelle Nauer, and former Secretary of State Bernie Buescher to advise and assist Reiner in her duties.

“The people of Mesa County deserve safe and secure elections. I am confident that with these appointments, voters in Mesa will be able to exercise their constitutional right to have their voices heard in our democracy. As Secretary of State, my top priority is to ensure all election security protocols are followed and to safeguard Coloradans’ right to vote and we will continue to conduct the business required of our office to provide oversight, to ensure the integrity of the state’s elections,” said Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold.

"In light of the ongoing investigation into the chain-of-custody and election security protocol breach in Mesa County, the Colorado County Clerks Association supports the Colorado Secretary of State’s designation of an interim election official to conduct and oversee elections in Mesa County until the investigation is complete. While unusual, this important step of placing a top-notch election expert in the office will ensure a safe and secure election is conducted for the citizens of Mesa County,” said Matt Crane, Executive Director of the Colorado County Clerks Association.

While Department of State staff is continuing to conduct analysis and awaiting additional information, as well as the outcome of a criminal investigation, several facts have prompted substantial concern regarding the ability of the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s office to execute an election in compliance with statute and rule. Of particular concern:

  • Mesa County authorized a non-employee, Gerald Wood, to attend the May 25, 2021 trusted build, in clear violation of Election Rule 20.5.4. The Department has confirmed that this individual was present at the May 25, 2021 trusted build event. The Department has determined that Mesa County Clerk and Recorder employees Belinda Knisley and Sandra Brown participated in facilitating the improper presence of this non-employee during the trusted build event by misrepresenting the individual’s employment status and role.
  • Footage, both video and photos, was posted online showing the BIOS passwords for Mesa County’s voting system. The Department knows from the timestamp on the video and from other evidence that it is likely this sensitive information was filmed and collected during the limited access trusted build installation in Mesa County on May 25, 2021. This meeting was limited only to a minimal number of Department of State staff, voting equipment vendor staff, and three individuals approved to attend by Mesa County: Clerk Tina Peters, Sandra Brown, and Gerald Wood.
  • Video surveillance of the Mesa County voting equipment was not continuous and cannot confirm chain of custody of voting equipment. The evidence suggests that an individual in the Mesa County Clerk’s office directed Mesa County staff to turn off video surveillance of the voting equipment prior to the May 25, 2021 trusted build. The video surveillance cameras were not turned back on until well after the trusted build had been completed, which is inconsistent with the Department’s understanding of the normal course of business practice in Mesa County.
  • Two hard drive images from Mesa County election servers were released on the internet during the week of August 9, 2021. Analysis confirms that these images belong to Mesa County hard drives and were created before and after the May 25, 2021 trusted build. The only method to make such copies is to physically access the machines.
  • One of the hard drive images is believed to have been taken on Sunday, May 23, 2021. The Department has confirmed that Clerk Peters, Sandra Brown, and Gerald Wood accessed the area where election equipment was stored outside of normal work hours on May 23.

At this time, it is clear that the facts uncovered in the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s office require that the Secretary of State exercise her authority as Colorado’s chief election official pursuant to 1-1-107, C.R.S. to supervise all elections occurring under the authority of Title 1 of the Colorado Revised Statutes in order ensure compliance with all election statutes and rules.

Effective immediately and until revoked by the Secretary of State through subsequent order, Sheila Reiner the Mesa County Treasurer and former Mesa County Clerk will supervise all conduct related to elections occurring under the authority of Title 1 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. The newly formed advisory committee will be responsible for advising and assisting Reiner and will include Representative Janice Rich, Ouray Clerk and Recorder Michelle Nauer, and former Secretary of State Bernie Buescher.

The committee will participate in weekly meetings with Ms. Reiner during the preparation for and execution of an election, unless Ms. Reiner and the committee decide upon another frequency. The committee shall also be permitted to participate in election functions as designated by Ms. Reiner. The Mesa County Clerk and Recorder and staff will take any and all lawful direction from Ms. Reiner and any other Secretary of State designee on any and all election matters.

Given the deadline to purchase, certify, and install trusted build on election equipment before August 31st, a swift appointment was required to ensure safe and secure elections in Mesa County.