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Politics and Government

Colorado’s top election official demands answers from third GOP county clerk on alleged election server copying

Douglas County Clerk Merlin Klotz is the third Republican county clerk under investigation by the Secretary of State’s Office after allegedly copying their election system hard drives

Election officials process ballots for the 2020 election at the Douglas County Office of the Clerk and Recorder in Castle Rock on Oct, 30, 2020. (Kevin Mohatt, Special to The Colorado Sun)
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Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold on Thursday ordered Douglas County Clerk Merlin Klotz to answer questions and turn over information about a copy of his county’s election system that was allegedly made. 

Klotz is one of three Republican county clerks being investigated by Griswold’s office for making copies of their election system hard drives. 

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“My office became aware of a potential unauthorized imaging of a Douglas County voting equipment server,” Griswold, a Democrat, said in a written statement. “The Douglas County Clerk has failed to respond to an email request requiring disclosure of information about this potential breach in election security protocol. To ensure the security of Douglas County’s voting equipment, I am issuing an Election Order requiring the Douglas clerk to disclose information regarding the imaging of the election equipment server.”

The Secretary of State’s Office began investigating after finding a statement attributed to Klotz in a social media post on the conservative website Telegram stating that he had made a copy of an election server before a software update was performed last year.

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder are also being investigated by Griswold’s office for allegedly making unauthorized copies of election system servers.

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Klotz, Schroeder and state Rep. Ron Hanks, R-Fremont County, sued Griswold in November claiming that the election system software used in Colorado in 2020 was improperly certified and that the Secretary of State’s Office illegally destroyed election records.

Griswold has strongly denied the claims, saying they are based on debunked conspiracy theories.

Various social media posts made on Klotz’s Facebook account have pushed debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. One post on Dec. 18, 2020, asserted that former Vice President Mike Pence had the power on Jan. 6 to declare election results in Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and other states illegal — a claim that helped spark the Jan. 6, 2020, riot at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

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The questions Griswold wants Klotz to answer include whether he has been in contact with MyPillow CEO and election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell about the imaging of voting equipment, and what other elected officials in the state he has spoken with about copying election system equipment.

Klotz declined to speak to The Colorado Sun in detail about the matter when reached Thursday, citing the pending lawsuit. But he did tell The Sun that “there are some issues I feel very strongly need to be addressed.”

John Case, an attorney for Klotz, told The Sun that Griswold is “initiating a persecution of everybody involved in this lawsuit against her” when the clerks were “just doing their job, trying to preserve election records.”

Case said he wasn’t entirely sure what Klotz had done related to making a backup of an election system server, and that he still had to talk with him about it. However, he said Schroeder did make a copy, adding, “I know Dallas (Schroeder) didn’t do anything illegal.”

“The clerk is charged with administering the voting system and maintaining it,” Case said. “He is allowed to copy what’s on that server. He’s responsible for preserving those records for 25 months. That’s his job.”

The Secretary of State’s Office said that because the copying took place before the software update, officials do not believe “that the unauthorized imaging has created an imminent or direct security risk to Colorado’s elections.”



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