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3 election judges removed by El Paso County GOP chair for not properly representing the party

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Leading up to the November elections, El Paso County’s Republican Chair removed three Republican election judges from their positions stating that they didn't properly represent the GOP.

Vickie Tonkins, the El Paso County GOP Chairwoman, initially called for five election judges to be removed from their positions. However, only three were permitted to be removed by law. 

“I have highlighted those I believe no longer represent the El Paso County Republican Party and my Administration,” Tonkins said in an email to the El Paso County Elections Director obtained by 13 Investigates. “I do not want them to serve in any capacity for Election Judge/Poll Watcher in the November 8, 2022, General Election.” 

The El Paso County Clerk and Recorders Office say its office depends on the political parties providing them lists of potential election judges. Appointed judges for the El Paso County Republican Party were provided to the County Clerk's Office in April 2022.

After those lists are exhausted by the Clerk's Office in their search for potential election judges, they can then open the search up to past election judges while still maintaining that party balance. Potential judges can also volunteer directly through the El Paso County Clerk's office.

According to state law, party leadership possesses this authority if they believe an election judge appointed to represent that party is no longer faithfully or fairly representing the party.

Tonkins told 13 Investigates the individuals she requested to be removed back in September had been election judges for years and argued that many others were turned away because of positions being promised to friends.

"I want to engage new people," Tonkins told 13 Investigates. "Part of my job is to grow the party. This whole hoopla of these few people that are upset. I'm sorry I want more people engaged."

El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman said he was obligated by state law to follow the request from Tonkins. However, he called the move “mean-spirited and punitive.”

As for promising positions to friends, Broerman told 13 Investigates that claim is "categorically false." The county clerk said no one has ever been turned away from serving as an election judge if they should be deemed eligible following a background check and they can work the schedule.

Broerman said the three election judges were removed from their positions after serving faithfully and honorably for more than a decade.

"I have plenty of positions open. There's room for everyone that wants to participate in elections," Broerman said. "There is never a shortage. So there was no need to remove somebody."

The county clerk said all three election judges worked hard to get accurate information about the election process in El Paso County out into the public sphere and encouraged others to become election judges.

"They work very hard to wade through the misinformation and disinformation that has been out there for them for the last two years post the 2020 election," Broerman said.

Tonkins told 13 Investigates she still has concerns about El Paso County's election process.

"I have been very clear that 94% of the people we polled in El Paso County believe there are issues with the way votes are counted in El Paso County," Tonkins told 13 Investigates.

Broerman argued that Tonkins' own misinformation is causing voters in El Paso County to mistrust the county's election process. The county clerk said his office goes above and beyond to promote elections transparency, including additional audits.

Nine days out from the November elections, the El Paso County Clerk's Office still has four elections judge positions available.

Tonkins claims she has had dozens of people coming to them about serving as judges who have now been given that opportunity after applying through the El Paso County Clerk's Office.

If you are interested in volunteering you are asked to call the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder's Office at 719-575-8683.

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Dan Beedie

Dan is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about Dan here.

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