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Colorado adopting new election security rules in wake of data breaches

New rules from the secretary of state's office limit access to voting equipment requirements as GOP election clerks bragged about copying voting machines.

DENVER — Colorado is adopting new election security requirements after some Republican election clerks in the state bragged about copying voting machine files.

The new rules restrict access to the voting systems, with new requirements for account access and cutting in half the number of people who can get inside voting systems.

The rules are said to be temporary but will be effective immediately. The directives include:

  • Password and User Account Security: Creates various additional requirements for passwords and user accounts for voting system equipment.
  • Acceptable Use Policy: Requires signing of the Department of State’s “acceptable use” policy for voting system equipment for individuals who will have access to that equipment. This is comparable to our acceptable use policy for the statewide voter registration database (SCORE), which has been in place for several years.
  • Hard Drive Imaging: Prohibits the creation of images of the hard drives of the voting system equipment and disclosure of such images without prior approval by the Department of State.
  • Trusted Build ProceduresAddresses procedures that county clerks must follow during a trusted build, including that evidence of a successful background check must be disclosed to the Department of State for all individuals who will be present during the trusted build. In addition, the county clerk must ensure that the trusted build is conducted under video surveillance.
  • Seal RequirementsCounties must continuously comply with seal requirements and may not allow any unattended voting system component to remain unsealed at any point after trusted build has been installed on the component.
  • Access to Secures Areas and Voting SystemsAny individual who is prohibited from having physical contact with any voting equipment under section 1-5-607(1), C.R.S. may not access a room with voting equipment unless accompanied by one or more individuals with authorized access. This means that in counties with a population over 100,000, elected officials may not enter a room with voting equipment alone. Prior to the temporary rules, only physically accessing equipment was restricted.
  • Access to Election Management Systems: Counties may grant administrative privileges to no more than four individual users, which is a decrease from 10 previously authorized, further access permission is approved by the Department of State. Counties must identify the employees with administrative privileges in the security plan filed with the Department of State.

Republican clerks Tina Peters in Mesa County and Dallas Schroeder in Elbert County have bragged about copying voting system hard drives and sharing the images with people outside their offices.

A third Republican election clerk investigated for claims of a copied hard drive has been cleared by Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold's office. Douglas County Clerk Merlin Klotz said he used a poor choice of words to describe a voting system backup on social media and did not do anything illegal.

The secretary of state's office said they are satisfied that there is not a current threat to election security in Douglas County.

RELATED: Tina Peters turns herself in, released on bond

RELATED: What can someone do with a copy of a voting server anyway?

RELATED: Douglas County Clerk denies election security breach, says he used 'wrong terminology'

RELATED: Elbert County Clerk and Recorder admits copying election hard drives, says it's his duty to 'preserve' 2020 records

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