Colorado clerks say Election Day went smoothly

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Colorado county clerks say the surge of motivated election deniers bent on intimidating voters and election judges did not materialize during Tuesday’s election, but they did report record numbers of ballots turned in on Election Day.

The election workers had expressed concern that the deniers — part of a nationwide attempt to manufacture evidence of election fraud — would swarm polling places Tuesday. To prepare, clerks ramped up training efforts to help staff de-escalate potential conflicts, tightened security measures and invited deniers into their offices to show them how Colorado’s voting system works.

Executive Director Matt Crane of the Colorado County Clerks Association said for the most part, Election Day went smoothly for county clerks across the state.

“We were very pleasantly surprised, not too many issues across the board,” he said. “I think there may have been a couple of ballot boxes with some aggressive watchers, but certainly nothing like we were expecting quite frankly, which is good.”

Clerks across the state, including in Larimer County, echoed those sentiments.

“I always tell our election judges, ‘don’t let the noise get in your head because it never materializes.’ And we’re ready if it does … but it just never materializes,” said clerk Angela Myers. “And this year was no different. We had virtually no issues whatsoever.”

Still, the county elections officials had reason to be nervous and prepared. One man in Chaffee County tried to steal a password to the election system last year, clerk Lori Mitchell said. And police arrested a Pueblo man earlier this month after they said he tampered with a voting machine during the June primary.

Another ballot in Adams County was returned containing a suspicious substance and officials turned it over to the FBI. Investigators later determined that the substance was not harmful. Leading up to the election experts repeatedly warned that clerks should prepare for widespread and baseless claims of election fraud during or after the midterms.

Fanning the flames locally are election deniers like conservative radio host Joe Oltmann, of Castle Rock, who gave Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl his endorsement this week.

And national figures like conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, former President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and then Trump himself.

On Election Day, Ganahl — who received the endorsement of Tina Peters, the indicted Mesa County clerk facing charges on allegations of breaching voting equipment security — asked county clerks to report vote totals in a specific way that’s different from their regular processes. Ganahl spent the final days of her campaign courting election deniers. (Crane said clerks reached out to Ganahl early in the campaign to answer any questions about the election process, but her “campaign blew us off.”)

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