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A Colorado race will focus on voters’ faith in the election.  It doesn’t look good.

His outspoken charisma has attracted loyal volunteers, many of whom are now campaigning for his re-election. “I was texting him at my daughter’s wedding,” Sue Felton, 72, said at a recent Democratic Assembly meeting in Denver, where Griswold hugged delegates, supporters and elected officials. “The first time I heard her speak was at a house party where she said she would work to make sure that ‘every eligible Coloradan was registered to vote, whether Democrat , Republican or Unaffiliated “.” She was elected in 2018 with 51% of the vote.

Then came the 2020 elections, when secretaries of state across the country were drawn into politics. Like Griswold, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson have become targets for supporters of the false claim that President Joe Biden stole the election. “Election officials continue to be regularly harassed and threatened with death,” Hobbs said in a January statement marking the one-year anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Dozens of armed protesters shouted obscenities and chanted into megaphones outside Benson’s home as she and her son were decorated for Christmas in December 2020, she wrote in a statement on Twitter.

Colorado’s Griswold is overseeing the election in a state where tensions are particularly high due to its deep divide between rural conservative voters and their liberal urban neighbors. She has drawn the ire of Tories both for public statements they deem partisan and for her vocal support for electoral reforms that opponents fear will centralize power in her office by weakening election oversight by clerks. County.

Election watchers and some Republican county clerks who work with her say Griswold’s bold, confrontational style and her ambitions for higher office make her appear more partisan than former secretaries of state, who largely served their duties in behind the scenes.

“There is no doubt that she views her position as a stepping stone to higher office,” wrote Eric Sondermann, political columnist for ColoradoPolitics.com. “His press releases are incessant. She has a nose for divisive and polarizing issues and seizes them with alacrity.

Questions about Griswold’s political ambitions arose after she created an exploratory committee to seek a race against Republican Sen. Cory Gardner six months after taking office in January 2019. She ultimately decided not to enter the race. She’s also not shy about publicly supporting issues important to her party — she testified before a state House committee this spring in support of a bill that codifies abortion rights into law. .

Her willingness to speak to the national media has undoubtedly reinforced the impression that she also has higher political ambitions. In the months following the 2020 election, as Trump’s accusations of a stolen election swirled and the country grappled with the fallout of the Jan. 6 insurgency, Griswold appeared frequently on CNN and MSNBC.

She discussed with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow how Mesa County Clerk Peters allegedly compromised voting materials, an act that ultimately forced Griswold to decertify the county’s voting machines. During an appearance earlier this year, MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle asked her how she could guarantee a “safe and secure election” in her state after Republican lawmakers in the state’s General Assembly offered to thank the January 6 demonstrators.

“There are great people on both sides of the political divide working in election administration,” Griswold replied, “but we see President Trump and his extremism taking over.”

She continued: “It will be very important for voters to pay attention to who is running for local elections and to Secretaries of State, because we cannot allow people who do not believe in the right to vote to oversee elections or to administer them.”

There are times in these interviews where the line between a pro-vote statement and campaign promotion becomes more blurred. In a February interview on CBS News, Griswold urged viewers to visit her re-election campaign website after discussing Peters’ announcement that she would run for secretary of state.

“She squandered her credibility, squandered the presumption of fairness and objectivity as secretary of state,” said Dick Wadhams, a Republican political consultant. “We’ve never had a secretary of state like that in Colorado before.”

Other election officials disagreed, saying Griswold was simply defending his office and democracy against conspiracy theorists. “The Secretary of State’s office has become more politicized not because of what Jena did, but because of the ‘Big Lie,'” said Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz, Pueblo County Clerk and Clerk, Democrat and Chairman of the State County Clerks. association. “I don’t think politicization is on her; it’s about people who believe the “big lie”.

Griswold also takes issue with the false claim that Biden stole the election in her job as president of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State. It hired full-time staff for the first time in its history, and the group has set a fundraising goal of $15 million for this election cycle, about eight times more than in 2019 and 2020.

Now, four years after her election, the spotlight on her desk is much brighter and much harsher than she could have imagined. The debate over election safety and security in Colorado has reached such a fever pitch that Griswold, who prefers blazers to jewel tones, is recognized as she walks down the street. But that’s not the only cost of having a higher profile.



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