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Experts urge investigation of ‘coordinated plan’ to compromise election software

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Experts urge investigation of ‘coordinated plan’ to compromise election software

Dec 11, 2023 | 6:00 am ET
By Lindsey Toomer
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Experts urge investigation of ‘coordinated plan’ to compromise election software
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Election workers process ballots at the Adams County Government Center in Brighton, Nov. 7, 2023. (Kevin Mohatt for Colorado Newsline)

A new letter from election security experts calls on federal officials to investigate the connection between voting system breaches in Georgia to breaches in other states, including Colorado, and warns of similar threats to 2024 election security. 

Free Speech For People, a legal advocacy organization, joined the group Black Voters Matter and a coalition of election and computer security experts in signing the letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Chris Wray and Special Counsel Jack Smith on Monday. 

The letter says the 2020 Coffee County, Georgia breach that prosecutors have tied to former President Donald Trump’s legal team is “just one element of a much broader, coordinated plan that involved many of the same actors engaging in the same unlawful activities in the pursuit of unauthorized copies of voting system software from multiple states.”

In Colorado, former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters will go on trial in February on a variety of charges related to a security breach during an election systems software update in 2021, when sensitive data was copied and system passwords were photographed and posted online.

“People that actively tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election have crossed legal lines to obtain copies of voting system software, and they have had it now for nearly three years,” Susan Greenhalgh, senior advisor for election security at Free Speech For People, said in a statement. “Our federal law enforcement agencies cannot ignore the threat this poses to future elections, and must initiate an investigation immediately.”

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold reiterated that Colorado’s elections are safe and secure. 

“As part of the attack on democracy, bad actors have tried to steal and copy election system information across the nation to use to further spread their conspiracies,” Griswold said about the letter in an email. “Bad actors who break the law should be held accountable.” 

Separately on Friday, the Colorado County Clerks Association executive board sent a letter to officials across the state encouraging them to stand up for Colorado’s election security as many continue to undermine the integrity of voting systems. 

“Unfortunately, it is clear that those who spread lies and distrust of our institutions aren’t going away and, in some cases, are better resourced and louder than ever,” the letter from the CCCA read. “We need you now to come forward and help us correct the record and regain trust taken from our elections by bullies and bad actors through a concerted national and statewide effort to deceive, not through any problems with our actual voting systems.”

The CCCA’s letter comes after the Colorado Republican Party last month sent a message to supporters repeating baseless allegations of “systemic fraud” and advising county canvass boards to not certify results from the Nov. 7 statewide election.

Matt Crane, executive director of the CCCA, said the association sent the letter to all of Colorado’s federal and state elected officials and are working on sending it to county officials, too.

Griswold said she will always work to protect Colorado elections and make sure every voters’ voices are heard as secretary of state.

“I commend the Colorado County Clerks Association for calling on all elected officials to stand up against bad actors who seek to undermine confidence in our elections,” Griswold said.