By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – The State Legislative Audit Committee met for more than 8 hours on Tuesday and decided not to order a performance audit of the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. Jenna Ellis, a member of President Trump’s legal team, was among those to testify remotely.

Ellis fielded questions from lawmakers for more than an hour and the exchanges got heated at times.

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Jenna Ellis (credit: CBS)

“What evidence do you have that we should be talking about?” Democratic state Sen. Rhonda Fields asked Ellis, saying the hearing was a waste of time.

Fields is among several Democratic lawmakers who demanded Ellis provide evidence of election fraud in Colorado. Ellis suggested it was the state’s job to prove there wasn’t fraud, noting Colorado uses the same vote tabulating machines that have come under scrutiny in other states.

“If you genuinely do have nothing to hide and this committee is surely concerned about protecting the integrity of the vote in Colorado, then it is incumbent upon this body to investigate,” Ellis said.

(credit: CBS)

 

But former Republican Secretaries of State Scott Gessler and Wayne Williams defended the machines, saying they’ve passed hundreds of tests. Both Williams and Gessler admit Colorado’s election system isn’t perfect. Gessler noted witness signatures aren’t verified.

“There is a glaring security hole in Colorado’s signature verification requirements,” he said. “So basically, because of sloppy voter rolls, we often times send out ballots to ineligible voters, or dual ballots to voters, and someone can simply put a mark and pretend or come up with some type of illegible signature as a witness and that will be counted.”

Scott Gessler (credit: CBS)

In an age when people rarely sign their names anymore, Gessler says a thumbprint would be more reliable than a signature. He and Williams also pointed out weaknesses in address verification, but both dismissed the idea of widespread fraud. Only one witness testified to limited cases of possible double voting.

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Regardless, Republican lawmakers say many voters have lost faith in the system.

“It is our duty as elected representatives of the people to rest any doubt the public may have concerning our election integrity,” said Committee Chair, state Rep. Lori Saine.

State Sen. Paul Lundeen argued an audit was the only way to restore confidence in elections.

“It’s about elections’ future and it’s about ensuring that Coloradans at home have peace of mind knowing that elections in Colorado are safe, secure and fair,” he said.

A motion by Republicans to audit the Secretary of State’s Office died on a tied party-line vote.

House Republican leadership released the following statement after Tuesday’s committee hearing:

“The integrity of our American elections is essential to our Republic. Today’s Legislative Audit hearing was key to ensuring that we never fail to ask the questions, gather information, and put voters’ minds at ease that we have fair and accurate processes in place. That work is the foundation of trust that we hold so that we can represent our constituents and craft the laws of our state.

We thank everyone that came with their questions, with information and open minds to inquire and learn. The testimony today is instrumental in ensuring the validity of the recent election and preparing for future elections, with an eye towards ways that we can improve our already robust systems of checks and verification, ensuring that every legal vote counts and is not diluted by errors and inaccuracies.

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In a year where an unprecedented number of voters have voiced doubts in election security, we have a duty to ensure that Colorado elections are always safe, secure and fair.”

Shaun Boyd