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Our View: GOP leader Shaw must bring evidence for not certifying election

Perform canvass duties, be accountable or step aside

La Plata County Republican Chairwoman Shelli Shaw followed right in step when Colorado GOP Ballot and Election Security Committee Chairman Ron Hanks sent a directive to county canvass boards on Nov. 22, urging them not to certify results from the Nov. 7 election.

We’re reminded of an old saw. If Hanks told Shaw to jump off a bridge into the freezing cold Animas River, would she do it?

Shaw knows better. Not only did she witness every step in the county’s Clerk and Recorder’s office, she participated in the process and witnessed the 100% accuracy in results. Refusing to certify them is not only ridiculous, it’s a dereliction of duty and mockery of the oath Shaw signed to be a canvass board member.

According the Clerk and Recorder’s office, Shaw signed off on a “logic and accuracy” test, after joining in the test of 25 ballots that were hand-tallied. Canvass board reps from both Democratic and Republican parties voted and paper ballots were printed from machines.

Shaw also joined in the “risk limiting audit,” with its track record of 100% accuracy, practiced since 2017. The Colorado secretary of state directs the county clerk and canvassers to pull specific ballots and send them to the office for validation. The selection of ballots is based on the roll of dice, making it as random as possible.

The risk limiting audit proves whether paper ballots are accurate. All results are put into a database. Particular numbers match ballots, which must line up and ping to what’s in the state database. Paper ballots and vote-counting machine results are compared and scanned for discrepancies – such as cross-outs, a common human error.

This level of precision and cross-checks is enough to instill a high level of confidence in outcomes. If the county doesn’t pass, another audit is required.

The public is invited to watch livestreams of all this, too.

Shaw’s reason for not certifying ballots had to do with how Secretary of State Jena Griswold selected election races and ballots to audit. As reported in The Durango Herald on Nov. 30, Shaw told Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Lee she didn’t have an issue with how Lee ran the local elections and wanted Lee to do this task herself.

Apparently, Shaw told county staff members she wouldn’t sign to certify results because she couldn’t say results were accurate. Yet, she and others reconciled ballots.

This makes no sense. Nothing untoward happened. No evidence or even a hint of systemic fraud.

Lee ran the election so she couldn’t determine specific ballots to audit. She’s too close to it. Not appropriate. Like a taxpayer who’d want to do her own tax audit. A third party is essential.

If Shaw can’t confirm election results were accurate, is she saying they’re not accurate? Or is this just a statement of blind loyalty to Hanks and his ilk?

Canvass board members take an oath, solemnly swearing to “faithfully perform the duties required of a member of the county canvass board.” Shaw should follow through on this commitment or step aside so someone else from our local GOP can carry out the responsibilities.

Time is money and shenanigans have a cost. Elections are expensive and counties need more reimbursement from the state. Paper, postage, staff hours – everything costs more these days. Security cameras and that new tint on ground-floor windows for safety at the Clerk and Recorder’s office were pricey.

Griswold has voiced concern that the state Legislature has signaled her office could bankroll more reimbursements. She’s reduced business fees, so her budget is already lean. The secretary of state reimbursing means the 925,000 business owners in Colorado would pay, passing on costs to consumers. That’s you and me – we’d all pay.

Some rural counties have had enough. Officials in rural Arizona’s Maricopa County who delayed canvassing the 2022 general election results have been criminally charged, the state’s top prosecutor said on Nov. 29.

A grand jury indicted Cochise County Supervisors Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby on one count each of conspiracy and interference of an election officer.

“The repeated attempts to undermine our democracy are unacceptable,” Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes said. “I took an oath to uphold the rule of law, and my office will continue to enforce Arizona’s elections laws and support our election officials as they carry out the duties and responsibilities of their offices.”

We have no reason to doubt Nov. 7 election results. Lee’s door is open to anyone wanting to talk about elections and ideas to improve processes within the confines of the law.

Lee said: “County clerks are your trusted source. When questions arise, come to us to get the facts. We love to give tours, and feel very strongly about the accuracy of our election in La Plata County and other counties."

Shaw’s choice intentionally erodes trust and is a slap in the face to so many dedicated, seasoned, serious election officials.

The letter to county canvass boards from Hanks, a loud election denier who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate last year, said: “Nothing has changed to make elections more accurate and transparent, and the canvass board has been made irrelevant. So why should any Patriot certify such a rigged system?”

We’d like Hank, Shaw or anyone else to show exactly why our election results in La Plata County aren’t worthy of being certified. Make that thorough, strong case. Otherwise, it’s all just noise and attempts at chaos.

Hanging onto false 2020 presidential election claims does no good. If someone tells you to jump off that bridge, would you do it?