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Colorado counties receiving $945K in funding to improve election security

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Joe Mueller

(The Center Square) – More than $945,000 has been awarded to county clerk offices throughout Colorado to improve election security.

Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, announced Tuesday the amounts of the grants coming via the Colorado Election Security Act, or Senate Bill 22-153.

“These new resources are critical in increasing security and protecting Colorado’s elections from insider threats and bad actors,” Griswold said in a statement. “I am so proud to issue these grants so that Colorado can continue to lead the nation in election security and access.”

Colorado’s law is one of the first in the nation to safeguard against potential inside threats to voting equipment and election systems. Griswold made it a legislative priority in 2022 after Mesa County's clerk and recorder made copies of hard drive images containing election management software. The data was later posted online.

The bill was signed into law in June 2022. During two funding cycles, 56 counties were awarded grants. All counties that applied for grants received funding, while eight counties didn’t apply for a grant during either funding cycle, the SOS office said.

Security requirements in the new law include the purchase, shipment and installation of new key card systems for rooms that house voting systems. The law also requires the purchase, shipment and installation of video security systems and video storage.

The bill’s fiscal note estimated $1.1 million in state funds would be spent to assist counties with compliance under the new law. It estimated key card access systems would range from $4,000 for a small- or medium-sized county to $8,000 for a large county. Additional cameras were estimated to cost $4,500 for a small county to $25,000 for a large county. Additional video storage was estimated to cost $4,000 for a small county to $100,000 for a large county.

On the Western Slope, Mesa County received almost $24,000, while Montrose County received $30,000. Larimer and Weld counties received the highest funding amounts at $36,500 each.

The new law also prohibits unauthorized imaging of voting equipment. Tampering with voting equipment is now a felony, along with unauthorized access to or facilitating unauthorized access to voting equipment and knowingly publishing voting system passwords online.

Whistleblowers are protected for reporting a breach of election laws under the new law. Enforcement actions initiated by the secretary of state are required to undergo a judicial review within 30 days.