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Douglas County clerk is third in Colorado under investigation for possible election security protocol breach

Douglas County Clerk Merlin Klotz is the third Republican clerk under investigation over concerns that voting system hard drives were copied.

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo — A third Republican county clerk is being ordered to provide video and answers to the Colorado Secretary of State over concern that voting system hard drives have been copied and shared outside of the county.

Democratic Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold has ordered Douglas County Clerk Merlin Klotz to provide answers and video surveillance of the county's voting machines as a result of an October 2021 post that appears to be from Klotz on the social media site Telegram.

The post, signed by "Merlin Klotz - Douglas Clerk and Recorder" makes reference to copying voting system hard drives.

"After my friend SOS, Wayne Williams selected Dominion as the sole election system provider for Colorado, I sued for an alternative. Accordingly only Douglas and Garfield counties now use Clear Ballot election system. And we, as always, took a full image backup of our server before a trusted build was done this year."

A trusted build is an annual process where voting equipment is updated to ensure adequate security. Griswold compared it to the type of updates that happen on a home computer. Only civil servants from the Colorado Department of State, representatives for the voting equipment provider and select county clerk employees are allowed to participate. Background checks are also required.

Last week, Republican Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder admitted in written answers to Griswold that he had made two copies of his county's voting system hard drive and shared one with an outside attorney.

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

Last year, Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters admitted to copying her hard drive and sharing the information at a conference with conspiracy theorist and My Pillow guy Mike Lindell.

Schroeder and Klotz are both in a lawsuit against Griswold to conduct a third-party audit of the 2020 election. That lawsuit was started by State Rep. Ron Hanks, R-Penrose, who is now running as a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

Last week, 9NEWS political reporter Marshall Zelinger reached out to Douglas County to ask if Klotz had copied his county's hard drive system like Schroeder had. A spokeswoman said that due to the county's size, he does not have access to the voting system like smaller counties.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, the spokeswoman said she had spoken with Klotz's staff, who said he did not have access.

We have asked the same question again for Klotz directly and are waiting for a response.

RELATED: Secretary of State sues to bar Mesa County Clerk from overseeing 2022 elections

Either Klotz received access to his voting equipment with another county employee and made the copies as he said he did on the Telegram post. Or he bragged about being able to do something he is unable to do. He could also claim the post is not from him.

Griswold has given Klotz until Feb. 10 to respond to her office's questions in writing. Among the questions:

  • Dates and method of voting system hard drive copies
  • Who was present when the hard drives were copied
  • Who has access to copies
  • Is Mike Lindell or anyone involved with Lindell involved
  • Provide access logs for rooms containing voting system equipment since March 1
  • Turn on all video surveillance 24/7

In May 2021, Schroeder verified his county's election equipment produced accurate election results. He conducted a hand recount of the 2020 Elbert County election results and found three discrepancies that he said were human error, not machine error. He said in a news release in May 2021 that two of the errors were election judge errors and one was a voter not making a clear identifying choice.

Unlike 62 of Colorado's counties, which use Dominion voting machines, Douglas and Garfield Counties use ClearVote voting systems.

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