With Tina Peters on the ballot, Colorado GOP secretary of state primary depicts stark differences over election

Where they stand on all mail-in votes

Peters supports eliminating Colorado’s practice of mailing absentee ballots to every voter. Instead, she thinks they should only be available by request to people with disabilities or who are out of state during an election.

“We have to go back to finding what will be safer for the vote, because if we have insecurities in our electoral processes, it dilutes the vote of the eligible voter,” she said.

Anderson supports keeping the current election rules in place.

“I think we have a great system here in Colorado. As county clerk, I spearheaded reforms such as ensuring that every voter has a voter-verified paper ballot. When I talk about the integrity of the vote, I think it’s about making sure it’s fair, accurate and accessible.

O’Donnell said Colorado’s current system, which was created by a 2013 law, has been in place for too long now to try to undo it.

“People have gotten very used to it. It is possible that legislation could do this, but it will be something very unpopular,” he said.

Both O’Donnell and Anderson are critical of the state’s decision to opt for an automatic voter registration model, which they say resulted in inaccurate registrations clogging voter rolls.

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Election worker Evan Siebring lifts a stack of ballots that have just arrived to be weighed at the Arapahoe County Election Center and Warehouse on Federal Boulevard in Littleton, Thursday, June 9, 2022.

Their position on the use of electronic voting machines

While all Colorado voters receive paper ballots in the mail, the machines are deeply involved in the state’s elections.

Most counties rely on electronic systems to scan and tally their returned ballots. Voting centers must also have an automatic voting system to allow people with disabilities to complete their ballot independently.

Over the past two years, many conspiracies surrounding the 2020 election have focused on election materials and denied claims that they could be used to change votes and rig results.

O’Donnell opposes a new state law that requires nearly all counties to use automatic counts and not rely solely on manual counts. He said counties should have more leeway in determining what types of machines to use, but technology in the state as a whole is behind schedule for an upgrade.

“The machines we use in Colorado meet 2005 federal standards. They don’t meet 2021 standards. That concerns me,” he said. “Having machines as secure as possible would be important for the state moving forward.”

colorado last forced clerks to purchase new voting equipment in 2015.

Anderson said she supports the current voting system and believes there are already adequate checks and balances — like the accuracy tests required before the election and robust audits afterwards — in place.

She said she would like to improve and standardize training for election judges on things like verifying signatures on returned ballots.

“We have a signature verification guide that judges use. We have some best practices that we use and share, but they are optional at the county level,” she said. “Overall, most of our states use them.”

Peters believes that any time a machine is involved in an election, it can be hacked. She wants to see Colorado stop using automatic counts altogether and instead require manual counts for all elections.

“We don’t need machines,” she says. “We can use machines to check hand counts if you want, but I think that’s a waste of money for people in the counties.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the Anderson campaign’s rebuttal to O’Donnell’s statement about being asked to quit the race.

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