Merlin Klotz

This story first appeared in a Colorado Community Media newspaper. Support CCM’s neighborhood news. The Colorado Sun is an owner of CCM.

Douglas County Clerk Merlin Klotz, who was being investigated by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office for possibly making an unauthorized copy of his county’s voting system server, says no illegal backup was made.

“No one has made an illegal or unauthorized image of any Douglas County election data or hard drive information,” Klotz, a Republican, wrote in a letter to state elections officials.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office said Thursday morning that it had closed its investigation after Klotz’s explanation.

The Secretary of State’s Office last week ordered Klotz to provide information about the alleged copying by Thursday after finding a statement attributed to him in a social media post in which he said there was  “a full image backup of our server” made before a software update. The post was made on the conservative social media site Telegram.

Klotz wrote to the Secretary of State’s Office that the statement was made in an email to a voter and that it was “never intended to be an exacting recitation of events.” He also said he had used inexact, incorrect wording in his email to the voter.

Merlin Klotz

“I used the wrong terminology ‘full image’ in an attempt to concisely note the backup of data under Election Rule 20.19.3,” according to the letter.

Klotz, Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder and state Rep. Ron Hanks, R-Fremont County, sued Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, 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.

Schroeder, a Republican, is also under investigation for allegedly making an unauthorized copy of his county’s election system.

Read more at douglascountynewspress.net.

The Colorado Sun contributed to this report.

Elliott Wenzler is a reporter for the Colorado Sun, covering local politics, the state legislature and other topics. She also assists with The Unaffiliated newsletter. Previously, she was a community reporter in Douglas County for Colorado Community Media. She has won awards for her reporting and photography. Elliott graduated from the University of Arkansas with a degree in editorial journalism and minors in both business and Spanish. She is also an avid rock climber, snowboarder and hiker. Twitter: @ElliottWenzler