COLORADO, USA — Colorado’s election officials are preparing for next month’s election in ways they don't usually have to.
County clerks now constantly monitor online rumors and threats, while also fortifying their offices with things like bullet proof glass. The focus this year is on physical violence coming from people who believe the baseless lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
"It is a major concern for us," said Matt Crane, Executive Director of the Colorado County Clerks Association.
Crane is a former Republican clerk in Arapahoe County. The final weeks leading up to Nov. 8 worry him.
"My biggest concern is that there is going to be something that happens where somebody takes a shot at or tries to physically harm an election official," Crane said. "That’s my biggest concern. It’s a very real concern."
He recently testified in Washington D.C. about the steps clerks here in Colorado are taking to keep themselves safe.
While the focus in 2016 and 2020 was on cybersecurity and foreign involvement in our elections, this year Crane searches for information constantly about new threats against his team that administers elections.
CBS News reported the FBI is warning of "unusual levels of threats to election workers" in 7 states.
The FBI didn't confirm that report to us, but Crane isn’t surprised Colorado is on the list. He’s living through it every day.
"What I’m doing in my role now is trying to get as much intel as I can. What are we hearing? What are the rumors that are out there? And making sure clerks are aware of that," Crane said. "We’ve had people who have put in bulletproof glass. We’ve had people put in higher dividers so people can’t see in. Increased cameras. Increased access controls. There’s a lot of things that have gone on over the last two years because physical security has been called into question so much."
Crane said anyone who believes the outcome of the 2020 election was fair is facing threats of violence.
He said his Republican colleagues have been on the receiving end of the majority of the threats, coming from people mad at them for not supporting the lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
"When you have Republican election officials who walk into these meetings and stand up and say, 'Wait a second, that’s not true and we can prove it,' it’s people in those meetings who come out and try to assassinate their character, trying to intimidate them, and yes, physically threaten their lives," Crane said.
Crane said he sees an increase in threats after specific events. For example, when Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters was arrested, he saw more threats against election workers across the state.
Now he’s monitoring things like online talk of groups organizing to go out to drop boxes and watch them on election day. The clerks are working to administer a fair election while also staying safe.
"It’s disgusting," Crane said. "It’s abhorrent. But it’s the world we live in right now."