The July 15 editorial from Times publisher Merle Baranczyk truly helped clarify the issues surrounding the AWOL 2020 Chaffee County election surveillance video.
A friend informed me they did not fully understand the scope of the problem until they read MJB’s narrative.
Two additional points about the explanations floated by Chaffee County:
First, Chaffee County theorized that the DVR instrument malfunctioned and failed to capture the video. If this claim were true, there would be three to four additional hard drives containing similarly blank data from Sept. 2 through Dec. 1. Why? Because each hard drive can only hold 22 days of video.
By Secretary of State rule, video surveillance must be recorded 90 days surrounding each election; a total of 2,160 hours. The county claimed to have 264 hours (11 days) of video that is “intact but inaccessible,” which is only 12% of the total required.
Had the DVR instrument malfunctioned and failed to capture the video, each of these three to four hard drives would resemble the first hard drive – no video data but with different ranges of time-stamped dates.
Chaffee County has failed to produce any such additional 2020 hard drives recorded on the Speco DVR. This means they were either never recorded, disposed of, or are otherwise missing.
Second, Chaffee County has thus far provided four different answers to this question: How long must the ballot room surveillance videos be retained?
#1 In an Oct 16, 2020 interview in the Mountain Mail, Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell said it was 90 days.
#2 On June 23, 2021 a Chaffee County issued press release stated the retention time is 6 months.
#3 Within hours, the county issued a corrected press release increasing the retention time to 25 months.
#4 When I subsequently filed a CORA last week requesting the surveillance video for two additional elections held within the last 25 months, the CORA response had the retention time changed yet again to 60 days.
The implication of this newfound 60 day retention time? The county has changed the rules until they are no longer required to produce video data from any recent elections.
In summary: Chaffee County does not currently possess enough hard drives to have recorded the 2020 election. In addition, when asked they have not produced any evidence that the 2019 general and 2020 primary elections were ever recorded either.
Any explanation thus far floated by Chaffee County has not fit the available facts.
Final note: While at the County Building last week, I asked to see the Speco DVR that was dropped. I was informed by the County IT Manager that the Speco DVR was recycled in April. It is gone. Destroyed. Is it a coincidence the device was eliminated soon after mid-March articles/letters mentioned complaints filed with the secretary of state and district attorney?
The county clerk has written that my concerns about the 2020 Chaffee County election are a conspiracy theory. Can my concerns be considered a conspiracy theory if they are true?