Elbert County Clerk and Recorder admits copying election hard drives, says it's his duty to 'preserve' 2020 records

by Marianne Goodland, Colorado Politics

Dallas Schroeder, the Republican Clerk and Recorder for Elbert County, made copies of two hard drives of the county's Dominion Voting Systems equipment, received instructions from two non-election staffers on how to do so, and admitted giving a copy to two private attorneys, who included his personal counsel.

Schroeder's admission came in response to a Jan. 19 order from Secretary of State Jena Griswold, whose office asked about a potential breach of security protocols tied to the county's Dominion Voting System equipment.

In his response, Schroeder said he made the copies out of his belief that he has a "statutory duty" to preserve election records, that by doing so he was complying with instructions from the secretary of state to back up election data and that he feared a "trusted build" might "erase or alter electronic records of the November 2020 election." 

Schroeder said "both hard drives were removed from the election server, one hard drive was removed from each ICC [image cast central] computer, and one hard drive was removed from the adjudication computer. Each hard drive was copied separately, then returned to its case."

Schroeder said he was accompanied by Rhonda Braun, the Elbert Elections Manager, and Amanda Moore, an employee of the Elbert County Clerk and Recorder's office. 

He also disclosed that two other individuals who are not employees of the Elbert County Clerk’s office provided him instructions as he made copies. Schroeder identified them as Sean Smith and Mark Cook, although Smith's first name was misspelled. It's Shawn Smith of Colorado Springs, who is with the U.S. Election Integrity Project (USEIP). A new order from Griswold on Jan. 27 corrects the typo. 

Smith appeared at an August cyber-symposium hosted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, which also featured an appearance from Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters. Griswold recently filed another lawsuit against Tina Peters, this time in an effort to keep her from overseeing the 2022 elections.

Smith is the president of a related election integrity group, Cause of America, which he said in a podcast is funded by Lindell.

Cook, an IT security consultant, appears to be associated with another election integrity group, Great American Rebirth, and, from emails, also appears to have been involved in an attempt to do a post-2020-election third-party audit in Sacramento. 

Two attorneys, including Schroeder's private attorney, John Case, have copies, according to Schroeder's response.

In a statement, Griswold said in light of disclosures in Schroeder's answers, she issued the Jan. 27 order requiring him to produce records and answer additional questions regarding the copying and distribution of copies of voting system hard drives. The information Schroeder provided suggested there is a "likelihood that the voting equipment was copied by using a prohibited removable storage device" and that copies are in the custody of "unauthorized people in violation of Election Rules," the statement said.

The order also requires Schroeder to retake possession of all the copies and provide the devices used in the copying for inspection.

“My office is reviewing the information received about the copying of Elbert County’s voting equipment hard drives,” Griswold said. “We are continuing to investigate, and will determine any additional steps required.”

Additionally, the Secretary of State’s Office is consulting with counsel at the Attorney General’s Office on the "potential ramifications" of Schroeder’s actions. [Yes we can see why. First Griswold removed Peters from her position as Mesa County Clerk because of Fraud evidence she found. Secondly she is in a panic over the possibility that additional damning evidence will be found in the inspection of the Elbert county Dominion server.  Her counsel is working on ways to keep this information from the public. Verrifying voting records IS NOT a violation of election integrity. However covering up the efforts of Clerks Peters and Schroeder are viewed as an effort to silence and remove the whisle blowers.. - ED]

The breach occurred prior to the 2021 trusted build of Elbert County’s 2021 voting equipment, which updates systems against vulnerabilities. The Secretary of State’s Office does not believe, for now, that the unauthorized imaging "created an imminent or direct security risk to Colorado’s elections." [A forensic review of the Dominion voting machine AFTER the trusted build may change that opinion. Clerk Schroeder had the 'trusted build' independently inspected. - ED]

The Secretary of State's Office said it became aware of the potential security protocol breach from an affidavit Schroeder filed, tied to a November lawsuit he and five other plaintiffs filed in a Denver District Court against the Secretary of State's office over "multiple unfounded election conspiracy theories." The plaintiffs for that lawsuit also include state Rep. Ron Hanks, R-Cañon City; Rio Blanco County Commissioners Jeff Rector and Gary Moyer; Douglas County Clerk and Recorder Merlin Klotz; and Park County Commissioner Amy Mitchell. [Note the ever preent media spin.".multiple unfounded  conspiracy theories..". Tina Peters 3rd party forensic analysis of the Mesa County machine is neither unfounded NOR a conspiracy, it's real fraud already repeated in Schroeder's district. - ED]

In that affidavit, first reported by The Colorado Sun, Schroeder said he was informed of evidence that the 'trusted build' process performed in May 2021 on Mesa County's Dominion system had erased electronic files that were part of the 2020 election records.

Schroeder affidavit

Given that he did not believe that the company that did testing on the Dominion systems, Pro V&V, was no longer federally certified, Schroeder said he made a forensic image of everything on the election servers. He said he saved those images to a secure external hard drive kept under lock and key in the Elbert County elections office.

Schroeder also said he wanted to hire an independent cybersecurity expert to make a forensic image of the county election server after the "trusted build" and compare it to the image Schroeder made before the trusted build update in order to determine if election records from 2020 had been destroyed. He was unable to do so because of new Secretary of State rules from Oct. 15 that prohibited him from hiring an independent expert. Schroeder seeks a court order to nullify the rules so he can do so.

{How convenient that the Secretary of state prevents Schroeder from procuring corroborative evidence. Schroeder would be smart to have the cyber security work done aside from the courts rather than wait for them. If the courts say 'No', we will never find the truth. - ED]

Schroeder did not return a request for comment.

Schroeder response to 2022-02Schroeder response to 2022-02