April 4, 2018
“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”
Whether correctly attributed to Joseph Stalin or not, the quote aptly reminds us that if we wish to control our government, we must control elections.

The Secretary of State, County Clerks and Legislators may say Colorado elections are trustworthy, but that is true only when “trustworthy” means “following the law and rules.” Are those elected officials Stalin-like, with evil intent? No. But they are hamstrung by laws that were passed by Democrats in the name of “modernizing” elections and making voting easier and more accessible. The Colorado election system, once controlled and verified by citizens, is now run by government.

Colorado voters can trust that there was an election, but they cannot trust the outcome. Our election audit and contest recount laws and rules totally ignore major risks due to undetected error and fraud occurring either inside or outside election processing centers. For example, the laws and rules do not require verification and validation that:
1. Every eligible elector is given the opportunity to vote once.
2. No ineligible ballots are cast.
3. No ineligible votes are counted.
4. Every eligible vote is interpreted and counted once.
5. All election records and processes are transparent.
6. Every cast ballot and cast vote is anonymous.

Before the passage of election modernization, an elector’s eligibility was verified by a local volunteer election judge who then offered the correct ballot to vote and cast. “Ballots Cast” was innately understood as the product of what VOTERS did before departing the polling place.
Now, voting is easy, but requires a problematic eligibility (signature) check of remote voters who casually drop signed ballot envelopes into a public mail box, into their own mailbox, into the hand of a friend or ballot harvester, or even into a clerk’s unmanned 24-hour drop box. Voters likely think this action equals casting the ballot.

However, the Secretary of State redefined “Ballots Cast” as the product of something the CLERK does. The new definition of “Ballots Cast” is “ballots received by the county clerk in an election, except those returned as undeliverable.” That new definition, originating in Boulder County, was a work-around to allow Canvass Board members to certify that “the number of ballots counted in this election do not exceed the number of ballots cast….” This new definition strategically ignores any problems ballot envelopes encounter before being accepted by officials. It also portrays as acceptable the practice of sending ballots to people who may or may not be eligible to vote them. Over 20,000 ballots were returned as undeliverable in Boulder County in 2017.

Each election contest can be decided by one vote; one error or fraud can cause an erroneous contest-outcome, putting the wrong person in office or creating a law that citizens voted against. Coloradans shouldn’t have to trust the process of electing officials to their elected officials. We the People must petition for the repeal of laws that make elections untrustworthy.

CANVASS BOARDS are made up of two volunteer representatives from each major party and the County Clerk. Their sworn duty as servants of the voters is to verify and reconcile all cast ballots to all contests counted, and certify the election outcome. Colorado’s ballot accounting is no longer complete enough for a Canvass Board to make a clear-conscience certification of an election. (See pages 39 – 43 https://assets.bouldercounty.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/2016-general-election-canvass-documents.pdf)

ELECTION AUDITS are conducted in each county by a bi-partisan team of verifiers and will, if allowed, detect tabulation errors and possible fraud by sampling the tabulated ballots and comparing them to the digital record created during scanning. Colorado’s Risk Limiting Audit is becoming the national gold standard, but cannot by itself guarantee an accurate election outcome. The audit does not tell which ballots deserved to be tabulated, or if all eligible-to-be-cast ballots were counted.

Mandatory CONTEST RECOUNTS, for narrow-margin contests, were originally intended to correct errors by manually counting the contest’s votes to interpret voter intent. A manual recount can find ballots never read or incorrectly interpreted by a machine. Colorado’s recount practices that avoid manual counting and exclude discovery of eligibility errors cannot arrive at an accurate result based on evidence.

In Colorado, those who are elected to tabulate our elections now also decide when (and if) an elector’s ballot will be “cast.” We the People must retake control of our elections so we can verify them and trust election outcomes.

Peg Cage, Chairman Boulder County Republicans