I, Carle Linke, a long term elector in Chaffee County, felt compelled to place this paid ad revealing important information, since my Letters to the Editor are routinely unpublished.
During the June 28 Primary Election, I attempted to participate as a Poll Watcher. I volunteer my time because I want to trust our elections. I arrived at the Courthouse at 4 PM on June 28 with the necessary credentials to Poll Watch. And was fully aware of the law and my rights to do so.
Immediately upon my arrival, County Staff denied my access to directly view the election activities. Instead I was assigned to a vantage point too far away to see anything of value. In trying to make my case, I presented to the Clerk and Staff the Colorado Secretary of State Rule 8.10.2 for Poll Watchers:
“Watchers must be permitted access that would allow them to attest to the accuracy of election-related activities. This includes personal visual access at a reasonable proximity to read documents, writings or electronic screens and reasonable proximity to hear election-related discussions between election judges and electors.”
Despite the fact that Clerk Mitchell had signed off and submitted a form to the Colorado Secretary of State attesting that she would accommodate these exact procedures for Watchers, I found out otherwise. I was told that Rule 8.10.2 might be the letter of the law, but is not how things are done. In other words, sit down and be quiet. I tried several times to get them to at least look at rule 8 to no avail, at which time a Law Enforcement Officer arrived. This officer stayed as long as I remained in the County Courthouse Election facility. No bodycam exists for this encounter.
During this time I repeatedly asked to see the Dominion Voting Systems Scanner, which is used to scan the ballots and tabulate the votes. I was finally told that the scanner process had been moved to a Building at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds! I have since learned that the County Republican Party Chairman had no idea that Clerk Mitchell had deconstructed the single room election facility dubbed the “Rainbow room” or “Dungeon" by some. It was constructed at great taxpayer expense in 2021, requiring the removal of a wall, but was only used one time in Nov 2021. I also have no idea how the equipment re-validation required by law could possibly have been performed after such a move, and without public notification.
I traveled to the Chaffee County Fairgrounds, where despite my rights and complete credentials I was denied access to the room containing the Dominion Voting Systems scanner and computer. I therefore decided to call the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office for assistance. The Deputy deferred to Clerk Mitchell. I was never allowed within proximity of the scanning process. I was told to sit and watch at a distance through a dirty, wired window. You can watch the bodycam footage of this encounter, and review other data here: Chaffee County Poll Watcher. Earlier the Sheriff’s Deputy had consulted Sheriff Spezze, who stated it is not the responsibility of the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Dept to enforce election law. So I ask: who is responsible for enforcing the law? If not the County Sheriff, then who? Show me a system of laws without enforcement, and I will show you a broken system.
Such is the advantage of power of our elected officials, where lawful public oversight of our election process is denied, and my only recourse is to pay for this ad. This is not new coming out of the Chaffee County Clerk’s office with their overreach of power, made-up (unlawful) rules, and restrictions of public oversight.
We still have never seen the 2020 election surveillance videos, and have received no definitive explanation for how the system supposedly failed. Efforts to obtain election surveillance video from the 2022 Primary election have stalled due to the exorbitant fees being demanded. And now there are election processes scattered throughout the County Courthouse’s back rooms, hallways, basement room, and the fairgrounds miles away, it is evident that there are not sufficient cameras/placement to ensure election integrity. I asked a County Employee why the election process was separated, She mentioned because of the threats to Lori, I responded “Do you mean the squirt gun incident?” this question was met with admonishment from the County employee.
Also, Clerk Mitchell was on the recent Primary ballot, and is by law not allowed in the ballot handling facilities, but there she was personally transporting ballots, making flash drives of results, uploading results all by herself, a job which requires by law a buddy system of one each Republican and Democrat election judges.
I invite Clerk Mitchell to respond to this letter and to engage in a civil and open dialog. There is a repeated claim that Chaffee County has gold standard elections. I assume this means that if the laws and procedures are being followed, the election outcomes can be trusted. I can personally attest that the laws and procedures as written are NOT being followed. We should continue to vote, but to ask questions, and speak up with what we witness and experience until this is rectified. I, like all electors, just want to trust the process, and have our entire vote count, whether it be in Our small County, Our State , or Our Whole United States.
Our government officials spend an awful lot of time telling us there are no problems with elections.
These same people refuse to allow us to watch these election processes, and scream if anyone wants to investigate any election issue.
We deserve better. Do you sense a pattern here? What is the problem if there is nothing to hide?