I found the dispute over the Chaffee County election video confusing, so I filed an information request with Chaffee County asking for the 2020 election surveillance video. According to the April 28 response I received from County Attorney Davis, the video is not available for viewing.

The video recorder was dropped and damaged by a County employee in preparation for viewing by a local citizen. The video is encrypted to this specific, damaged recorder and the video recorder manufacturer refused to provide support for this outdated machine.

Why didn’t Chaffee County have modern equipment? Why was quality of surveillance videos of the election process such a low priority?

In a January 12 letter, six days after DropGate occurred, Commissioner Baker sent a letter to the Mountain Mail stating, “ There was no voter fraud that affected the outcome of the election.” How does he know? Was it because the surveillance video could no longer be viewed? The Commissioner has not spoken publicly about the election since. Why not update us about the video now?

There was an interview with Clerk Mitchell printed in the March 6th Ark Valley Voice, two months after DropGate, saying there was absolutely nothing wrong in the 2020 election. Do you know what is never mentioned? This missing election video. Will Clerk Mitchell give another interview and answer additional questions?

We now know from the Chaffee County Attorney that the video is unavailable. Yet the only local news coverage has been through letters in the Mountain Mail from citizens. This argument is mounting in Salida, but no one in Buena Vista is covering it. Is there a news blackout?

The explanation from the County is that DropGate was an accident. I might have believed that if the County and the local press had gotten out in front and acknowledged what had happened. Is it possible that DropGate was staged because there is election video content that the County is withholding? Could it be that hiding behind a damaged, unwatchable video is safer than explaining what actually was recorded on the video?

Since the Nov 2020 election, we have been barraged with a consistent and constant message: The election was fair, above reproach, no problems with the election. Not at all. None. Anywhere.

Now, this narrative is starting to unravel in Chaffee County. The election surveillance video would have provided non-biased proof that the election was conducted fairly and without irregularities. It opens up the possibility that fraud could have occurred.

So what are concerned voters supposed to do? Since the video is unavailable, we should request a recount. The County will agree, if there is nothing to hide.

Uncertainty is divisive. The antidote to this is truth. Uncovering the truth requires investigation. Who will initiate this investigation? When will it begin? Will Chaffee County investigate themselves? Our elected officials owe us an explanation.

Vickie Derke


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