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DENVER (KDVR) — Elections were in the spotlight at the Colorado Capitol on Monday.

Lawmakers are hoping to strengthen election security with stronger penalties for clerks and election officials who violate election security protocols.

With 2022 being a midterm election year, lawmakers, a group of county clerks and the secretary of state said they are looking to tighten up security measures in an effort to end election threats.

“We believe this bill is the most important bill that we’ve seen in colorado elections since 2013 with the creation of the all-mail ballot elections,” said Gilbert Ortiz, president of the Colorado County Clerks Association.

“I don’t think we were thinking about insider threats before Mesa (County),” Secretary of State Jena Griswold said, referring to the arrest of the elections clerk and a deputy clerk there. “You know we have lots of safeguards, but the idea that someone elected would try to destroy from within was shocking,” Griswold said.

So now the state is looking to make sure election leaders are keeping the voting process secure by requiring them to have their voting systems stored in an area only accessible by key card and monitored by surveillance cameras, reminding election leaders they have to undergo certification 6 months before the election.

If election leaders are caught breaking these rules or committing other election offenses, like broadcasting voting materials, they would lose their seat if this new measure passes.

“If you do these things and abuse your position of power as an election administrator, this bill increases penalties to hold you accountable,” sponsor Senate President Steve Fenberg said.

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters still holds her seat despite facing a 10-countindictment related to an investigation into a voting system breach. Lawmakers said her incident kick-started a pattern of bad behavior, and now they are looking to end it.

“We felt like this legislation was important to push forward the idea of election security, what really and truly that stands for. A lot of that has gotten blurred since 2020,” said Matt Crane, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association.

Fenberg said the goal is to get the measure through the legislation over the next few weeks, within a month. The bill is set to have its first hearing in committee Tuesday.