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FBI joins felony probe in Colorado voting gear breach

Jena Griswold

DENVER (AP) — The FBI mentioned Wednesday its brokers are becoming a member of a felony investigation into an alleged safety breach of a rural Colorado county’s voting gear.

The brokers are working with Mesa County prosecutors to find out if there was a felony violation, FBI spokeswoman Courtney Bernal mentioned in an announcement.

The federal probe comes after Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold alerted federal cyber safety officers inside the U.S. Division of Homeland Safety of the suspected Might breach.

No elections have occurred since, and the federal officers confirmed the alleged breach posed no vital dangers “at this level,” Griswold mentioned earlier this week.

The allegations contain photos of election administration software program utilized by Mesa County election’s gear that have been obtained by conspiracy theorists.

Griswold’s workplace mentioned it believes one of many photos was taken on Might 23 from a safe room the place the gear was saved and accessed by Peters, one other county elections employee and a non-employee.

Griswold’s workplace recognized the non-employee however refused to say something extra about who he’s or why he was there. The Related Press isn’t naming him till extra data turns into out there. He has not been charged with against the law.

Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters condemned Griswold’s inquiry into the alleged safety breach at an occasion final week in South Dakota hosted by My Pillow chief govt Mike Lindell, who has turn out to be well-known for his unwavering help of former President Donald Trump and efforts to overturn the 2020 election due to widespread fraud. A variety of election officers throughout the nation, together with Trump’s former legal professional common, William Barr, have confirmed that widespread fraud didn’t happen.

Peters mentioned Griswold’s investigation is an try at a takeover of Mesa County’s elections in one in every of Colorado’s final Republican strongholds. Peters additionally alleged the investigation is an try by Griswold and Colorado’s Democratic Gov. Jared Polis to “management the best way you vote,” she instructed the South Dakota viewers.

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The dispute is the most recent illustration of how the November 2020 election that may be a distant reminiscence for a lot of stays entrance and middle for some far-right Trump supporters. A Republican-led audit of Arizona ballots has been happening for months regardless of any proof to help the assessment.

Accelerating the dispute on Wednesday, Griswold’s workplace blasted the My Pillow chief govt because the “chief misinformation spreader” in a fundraising e-mail and requested Colorado residents to donate to Griswold’s reelection marketing campaign to “take motion to point out we stand with the reality, not with conspiracy theories created and unfold by sore losers.”

The federal inquiry provides yet one more layer to the political brawl between Griswold, a Democrat and Peters, a Republican. The feud got here to a head final week when Griswold accused Peters of aiding within the safety breach by directing workers to show off video surveillance of its voting gear earlier than a Might 25 software program replace and permitting a non-employee into the elections workplace at the moment.

Griswold appointed Mesa County Treasurer Sheila Reiner to oversee the county’s upcoming elections and a three-person advisory committee to help Reiner. Griswold additionally ordered Mesa County to interchange its voting gear as a result of posting of the county’s voting gear passwords on a far-right weblog.

Colorado’s voting system has been praised by officers, together with former Trump-appointed Homeland Safety Secretary Kristjen Nielsen, as one of many nation’s most secure.

The state’s election procedures have been developed below each Republican and Democrat-appointed secretary of states.

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Nieberg is a corps member for the Related Press/Report for America Statehouse Information Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit nationwide service program that locations journalists in native newsrooms to report on undercovered points.

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