Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold is attempting to take control of elections away from the counties and place power into the hands of the Executive branch and specifically, the Secretary of State’s Office.
Senate Bill 22-153 contains numerous provisions that override the authority invested in county election officials. States do not run elections, counties run elections.
One of the reasons elections are administered by the jurisdiction closest to the people, is to ensure that governance reflects the needs of the people and that the officials who conduct those elections are responsive to the voices of the people.
What is needed in rural counties is not what should be implemented in urban counties. The counties are the place where elections belong in Colorado. The counties of Colorado understand the needs of their people far better than an executive branch officer residing in the state capital.
Our elections administration system is built on checks and balances that include county election officials. This bill would effectively silence county election officials and remove their authority to certify or not certify a canvass of the vote.
Among the many concerning provisions in Senate Bill 22-153, is Section 8. This section would criminalize speech by election officials that is perceived as critical of election administration. This provision would violate the free speech clause of the U.S. Constitution and would prevent the officials that administer county elections from discussing it freely with the people or the press.
To quote the bill sponsors:
Section 8 also specifies that, while serving as a designated election official or a coordinated election official, a person is prohibited from knowingly or recklessly making, publishing, broadcasting, or circulating any false statement for the purposes of promoting misinformation or disinformation related to the administration of elections.
‘Misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ are completely subjective terms open to interpretation that would effectively silence election officials at the county level. In a time when free speech is routinely ‘cancelled’, attempting to prevent election administrators from speaking freely is dangerous to our system of government.
Another section of this piece of executive overreach that should concern every resident of the state of Colorado is Section 13. Section 13 allows the secretary of state to overrule a county canvass board’s refusal to certify election results.
The bill sponsors’ summary of Section 13 outlines the requirement that when a county canvass board does not certify a canvass the secretary of state may do so. This completely removes the ability of the county canvass board to perform its function and places the power to certify the canvass of every county in the state solely in the hands of one executive official, removing the checks and balances from the election certification process:
Section 13 states that if a majority of a canvass board in a county is unable to or does not certify the abstract of votes for any reason by the applicable deadline, the secretary is required to review the noncertified abstract of votes and other evidence provided by the canvass board. If, after review, the secretary determines that the noncertified abstract of votes is sufficiently explicit in showing how many votes were cast for each candidate, ballot question, or ballot issue, the secretary is required to certify the results for the county and proceed to certifying state results.
VoteRef.com represents the exact opposite of what Secretary of State Griswold is attempting to do to Colorado elections, namely, it is an effort to provide complete transparency and to return control of elections to the citizens. The type of arrogant, socialist overreach exhibited by SB 22-153 should be perceived as insulting by voters of all parties.
SB 22-153 is a complete violation of the checks and balances in the election administration system. It violates the concept of government closest to the people. It violates the Bill of Rights Free Speech clause, and it completely usurps the authority of local election officials. The Secretary of State does not and should not have the unilateral power to certify an election. SB 22-153 is wrong for Colorado and it is wrong for America.