Secretary of State Jena Griswold on Wednesday appointed an election supervisor in Pueblo County, arguing the move is necessary to ensure "the fair and accessible conduct" of the June 28 primary following allegations of mistakes by the county's election office.
Griswold earlier this month also appointed an election supervisor in Elbert County, alleging a breach in election protocol last year warranted the move. Elbert County's commissioners blasted the decision and accused Colorado's top election official of pursuing a blatant "partisan political action."
“Every eligible Coloradan — Republican, Democrat, and Unaffiliated alike — has the right to cast a ballot in accessible and secure elections. That’s why I am taking action to appoint a supervisor in Pueblo County,” Griswold said in a statement. “My Office will continue to work closely with the Pueblo Clerk and Recorder’s Office to provide the support and oversight needed to carry out the 2022 Primary.”
In a news release, Griswold said the decision to appoint Drake Rambke as election supervisor in Pueblo County resulted from complaints that asserted "various allegations of errors and mistakes" committed by the Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder’s Office in its conduct of the primary election.
Her office is investigating these allegations, Griswold said.
While that investigation is ongoing, Griswold said her office found that ballots with the incorrect state House race were sent to voters in the county's Precinct 209, and the Pueblo County Clerk and Record’s Office also omitted the county commissioner District 3 race from a "substantial number of ballots" mailed to voters.
Griswold said Rambke is a professional election administrator who previously served as her office's election observer in Pueblo County. Under her order, Rambke is authorized to "inspect, supervise and direct the activities of the elections staff of the Clerk and Recorder’s Office."
"The Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder and staff will take any and all lawful direction from Rambke and any other Secretary of State designee on any and all election matters," Griswold said.
In a statement, Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown said she is glad to see Griswold followed the Republican Party's "recommendation to appoint an Election Supervisor in Pueblo County."
"This is an important first step to correcting the gross mismanagement and incompetence Pueblo County voters have had to endure the past few weeks," Kristi Burton Brown said in a news release. "It’s clear that the Democrat Clerk in Pueblo is not up to doing this job in a manner that would give voters confidence. We continue to urge his replacement with a Designated Election Official prior to the November general election.”
Burton Brown yesterday called on Griswold to appoint an election supervisor in Pueblo County, just as "she has chosen to do in counties run by Republican Clerks."
"Some Pueblo County voters have now received FOUR different versions of their ballots. These mistakes have risen to a level that can only negatively impact the trust that voters have in Colorado’s election system," the GOP official said.
Griswold on June 9 appointed Christi Coburn as a supervisor in Elbert County, tasking her with monitoring decisions and actions by Dallas Schroeder, Elbert County's clerk and recorder, and his staff regarding the primary election.
In a statement, Griswold's office said "the decision to appoint a supervisor follows a 2021 election security protocol breach in Elbert County where Clerk Dallas Schroeder violated Colorado Elections Rules in the unauthorized imaging of the county’s voting system hard drives."
Last month, an Elbert County district court judge ordered Schroeder to turn over election computer hard drives he had copied to the Secretary of State. Schroeder had made those copies with the assistance of two attorneys who were not employees of the county clerk and recorder's office.
Schroeder gave those copies to the Secretary of State's office on May 5.
"We are extremely disappointed that the current Secretary of State, Jenna Griswold, has chosen to depart from the long-held standards of conduct of her predecessors to blatantly pursue partisan political action," Elbert County's commissioners said in a statement. "The suspicious timing of her latest election order – issued just as voters are receiving ballots – yet based on information publicly available to her for over six months seems timed more for maximum political impact than to ensure election security or voter confidence."