Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold has asked a judge to throw out a lawsuit filed by six Republican-elected officials seeking to launch a third-party “audit” of the 2020 election, part of a broader effort to spread baseless conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud and seize control of state elections.
Griswold’s response, submitted on Monday, moves to dismiss all three claims for relief made by the lawsuit against her, which was filed last month by a group of GOP officials led by state Rep. Ron Hanks, a Penrose lawmaker and 2022 candidate for U.S. Senate.
“My office is requesting the judge dismiss this baseless lawsuit,” Griswold said in a statement. “The plaintiffs’ allegations are patently false, and their legal justifications without merit. Nationwide, bad actors are abusing the judicial process to spread disinformation, undermine confidence in elections and suppress the right to vote. It is extremely concerning to see elected officials here in Colorado spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.”
Hanks’ lawsuit raises a series of objections to the secretary of state’s election procedures, including Griswold’s adoption of emergency rules prohibiting what she called “sham election audits” like the one that took place earlier this year in Arizona. That effort, conducted by Florida-based firm Cyber Ninjas at the request of GOP lawmakers, has been widely criticized as undermining confidence in the state’s election system while uncovering no credible evidence of fraud.
Colorado law already requires counties to conduct bipartisan risk-limiting audits, which are designed to provide a statistically high degree of confidence in election results.
Two Republican county clerks, Merlin Klotz of Douglas County and Dallas Schroeder of Elbert County, have joined Hanks as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, along with two Rio Blanco County commissioners, Gary Moyer and Jeff Rector, and Park County Commissioner Amy Mitchell.
Hanks, a first-term lawmaker who announced his candidacy for the Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in October, has become one of the state’s most prominent boosters of debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. He was present at a rally in support of former President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, and admitted to crossing police lines during the assault by pro-Trump rioters on the U.S. Capitol.
Earlier this month, Hanks spoke at a “Citizen’s Forum” hosted by an election-denial group in Colorado Springs, at which he laid out a six-point plan for a total overhaul of election procedures in Colorado, beginning with “local-controlled, clean voter rolls” and the abolition of the mail ballot system.
“We are in a moment now where we are going to have to be aggressive,” he told the audience, according to audio of the event obtained by Newsline.
Griswold’s office said that in addition to failing to show that the new audit rules were invalid, other sections of Hanks’ lawsuit rest on false allegations relating to election record-keeping and the accreditation of voting systems.
“As secretary of state, it is my duty to defend the rights of every Colorado voter – Republican, Democrat and unaffiliated, alike – and I will continue to do so,” Griswold said.