El Paso County Candidate for Clerk and Recorder Challenges Electoral System, Proposes Major Reforms | Government
Colorado Springs businessman Peter Lupia challenges El Paso County Assessor Steve Schleiker in Republican primary for clerk and recorder, vowing to restore confidence in local elections by returning manual counting of ballots, among other major reforms.
Lupia, a Central Committee member and Republican county executive, has “no real confidence in our electoral system as it is” and wants to make changes to the office, such as eliminating Dominion machines that tally votes. votes, improving maintenance of voter rolls and advocating for an end to mail-in voting, among other measures.
He was also motivated to challenge Schleiker, whom he chose as a career politician. Schleiker has a limited term as assessor.
“I think we have a process forming here where people feel comfortable just being elected,” he said.
Duties of the Registrar and Registrar include overseeing offices that handle motor vehicle registrations, marriage licenses as well as elections.
Lupia said he would bring leadership to the office as an entrepreneur who started businesses focused on property appraisals and security technology. He also works as a consultant for large companies and helps them identify weaknesses, develop a plan to address those issues and implement changes, he said.
To address what he sees as election security issues, Lupia said he would like to return to manual counting of ballots at the precinct level and eliminate the use of tabulation machines. He would also advocate for the state to eliminate mail-in voting and a return to requiring voters to show up in person with photo ID to ensure security. He said he questions the use of signature verification to prevent voter fraud because false signatures could be attached and used instead.
“I appreciate the convenience of voting by mail. … It’s not the safest way to do things,” he said.
He would also like to limit state participation in county-run elections and auditing election results.
Clerk and recorder Chuck Broerman, a Republican, countered Lupia’s claims, saying manually counting ballots is less accurate, much longer and more expensive. Humans are simply not cut out for the repetitive task of counting ballots, he said.
“It’s prone to mistakes and shenanigans,” said Broerman, who is also term-limited and running for county treasurer this year.
If the county had chosen to hand-count the nearly 400,000 ballots cast in El Paso County in the 2020 election, it would have taken four to five weeks, Broerman said.
“I think our constituents want timely results,” he said.
To prevent fraud, signatures on ballot envelopes are compared to signatures on a voter’s driver’s license and if the computer rejects a signature because it does not match, it is reviewed by bipartisan election judges, said El Paso County Chief Electoral Officer Angie Leath. Signatures are kept at the state level and there is no way to affix a false signature, she said.
The mail-in ballot process that Lupia is questioning was also hugely popular in the state with about 98% of voters mailing in their ballots in the November election, said Annie Orloff, of the secretary of state’s office. .
Lupia also asked how voters lists are updated, saying the Electronic Registration Information Center, a membership organization among the offices of the Secretary of State that works to keep voters lists up-to-date across state lines, has lists very different from the lists the county maintains.
Former Secretary of State Wayne Williams said the center helps find people who voted in multiple states and has used it to direct people to prosecution for voting improperly.
Lupia’s concern about the center was just one example of statements by Lupia that show he has a poor understanding of elections, Williams said.
“He just doesn’t understand the process,” he said.
Thirty states are involved with the center, which helps keep voter rolls cleaner by alerting the county to changes, such as voters who have left the state, Broerman said.
Regarding state involvement, Lupia said clerks should have more freedom to fully verify their election results.
El Paso County went above and beyond to ensure the integrity of the election, Broerman said, including releasing a digital image of each ballot.
Broerman, who is also a member of the county’s Republican executive committee, said he offered to show Lupia around the office to understand the process and never visited, limiting his knowledge.
“He apparently listened to conspiracy theorists,” Broerman said.
The clerk noted in the November election that El Paso County’s voter turnout was near the bottom of major counties in the state amid local concerns about election security.
“Has this speech reduced the voice of the citizens of El Paso County statewide? If so, it’s a sad day,” he said.
He said his office has responded to thousands of calls and emails about election security issues, and many of those people feel assured that votes are safe in the county after speaking with staff. But not everyone.
“A small handful of people that we will never reach, but we aim to keep trying,” he said.
Whoever wins the Republican primary, Lupia or Schleiker, will face Democratic nominee Lisa Wilkes for the seat in November.