Jenna Ellis

Members of President Donald Trump's legal team, including Sidney Powell, left, and Jenna Ellis, center, speak during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Thursday Nov. 19, 2020, in Washington. 

Jenna Ellis had already won and she didn't seem to know it.

The senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign pressed for a review of Colorado's election before the Legislative Audit Committee Tuesday, a day after Joe Biden pocketed the state's nine Electoral College votes and sealed his win nationally.

Colorado, however, has a whole system for tests and reviews after every election. It appeared that the only good test would be one that proved Ellis right.

She mostly claimed the state's voter rolls are sloppy.

Maybe, maybe not, but probably not enough for Donald Trump to make up the 439,745 votes he would have needed to win Colorado. Ellis' appearance linked the two.

Doing better, you can't argue, is always better. Democrats on the committee saw the all-day hearing differently.

"Republicans gave witnesses a platform to propagate false, dangerous, and discredited conspiracies," they said in a joint statement

The Secretary of State's Office provided written testimony to the committee, speaking of "unfounded claims and false narratives made by President Trump’s campaign legal team."

The eight hours of testimony represented the latest attempt by Republicans in various states to raise doubts about the fairness of elections, which Trump still claims he won. 

“There is a glaring security hole in Colorado’s signature verification requirements,” charged Ellis, a former Weld County prosecutor and instructor at Colorado Christian University.

Sen. Rhonda Fields, a Democrat from Aurora, pressed her for proof.

Ellis thought it was the legislators' job to find it.

It's not their job. I'm not a lawyer, and most of my relatives use a public defender, but I know that.

Congress holds investigations, but our legislature only writes and votes on bills. The best the Legislative Audit Committee could do is order a performance audit of the Secretary of State's Office, and that request died on a 4-4 party line vote.

The legislature has no authority to order a recount.

In reality, the statehouse has more say over an outhouse than the courthouse. The courthouse is where the crime of election fraud is adjudicated, where election laws are interpreted and, in most cases, where municipal and county clerks run elections.

Lawmakers could rewrite the state's election laws, throw out mail ballots, but there's as much a chance they'll sell Grand Junction to Utah, as long as Democrats are in charge.

The legislature also can do virtually nothing to Dominion Software, the LoDo-based company in the eye of Trump's political storm. Ellis said the state should get rid of them.

Dominion machines, however, have been tested 868 times by the county clerks across Colorado, and it's passed every time, Wayne Williams, the former Republican secretary of state and former El Paso County clerk and recorder, told me in a chat Wednesday.

Ellis' only base hit Tuesday was pointing out that the Democratic secretary of state, Jena Griswold, solicited dead people and undocumented residents to sign up to vote in September.

Suspicious, yes; proof, no.

Griswold sent out postcards encouraging folks not registered to voters sign up and told them how. The mailing list was not a voting list, and it doesn't mean anyone successfully registered or cast a ballot.

That's like saying that because I received a coupon from Bed, Bath and Beyond I'm in the market for a duvet. I'm not even sure what a duvet is, but BB&B is burning up postage trying to convince me I need one.

You could say the same about Griswold, when she scatters solicitations like seeds in the wind. Postage ain't cheap, even if taxpayers foot the bill.

Under Williams, postcards went only to new people who showed up in the government system — those most likely to be alive and a citizen — not every adult who didn't appear to be registered.

On the other hand, if an undocumented person receives a postcard from the government telling them they need to do something, they're likely not to wade into the fine print to see they're not eligible. If they register, they're registered to vote until a "safe check" sometime after the election says they're not.

That sounds bad, but keep in mind a Pew Research Report last year estimated the state is home to some 180,000 undocumented immigrants, so if every man, woman and child voted 2½ times each, Trump could have made up the ground he needed to win Colorado. Call me unconvinced.

At worst, however, Griswold's postcards invited unnecessary suspicion.

Williams told me he welcomes scrutiny, because he's confident Colorado is better than up to it. "I think we've got a great story to share, and to not respond to what's obviously a matter of public interest, I mean, I want people to have confidence in the election," he said.

Rep. Lori Saine, the Republican from Dacono who chairs the audit committee, said it was legislators' job to reassure the public.

Short of a wholesale rewrite, Democrats could tweak the rules, which isn't usual. Williams and another former Republican secretary of state, Scott Gessler, pointed out some improvements, such as including information from the judicial system to help update voter rolls and strengthening existing witness signature requirements.

Not taking the questions seriously, however, again only invites unnecessary suspicion. If Republicans are trying to create doubts, Democrats seem too eager to help them.

Colorado Politics senior political reporter

Joey Bunch is the senior correspondent and deputy managing editor of Colorado Politics. His 32-year career includes the last 16 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and he is a two-time finalist.

Load comments