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Secretary of State’s Office appointing an observer to assist in the Pueblo County election

PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- 13 Investigates has learned that an "observer" has been appointed to assist Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz in running the 2022 Primary Elections in Pueblo County.

According to the Secretary of State's Office, an observer "may examine the conduct of any aspect of any election in counties they have been appointed, including the monitoring of the clerk’s office’s activities, process, and procedures."

In recent weeks, 13 Investigates has reported on multiple errors with ballots, including the District 3 County Commissioners race being left off ballots, eligible voters receiving ballots with the wrong House District listed on them, and the County having to reprint 70,000 ballots costing taxpayers between $12,000 and $14,000.

Tuesday, numerous politicians running in Pueblo Primary races sent a formal complaint to the Colorado Secretary of State's Office. In the complaint, they outline multiple of the aforementioned issues with ballots in recent weeks. They requested the SOS Office appoint a supervisor in Pueblo.

A supervisor would essentially take over running the election, and strip a county clerk from running the election. A spokesperson for the Secretary of State's Office tells 13 Investigates a supervisor will not be appointed in Pueblo County, amid the request.

Jenna Griswold's Office issued this statement to 13 Investigates:

"Secretary of State Griswold informed Clerk Ortiz last week that she would be exercising supervisory authority in sending an observer to Pueblo for the remainder of the 2022 primary election. The Department of State is working with Clerk Ortiz’s office to ensure that Pueblo county voters have safe, secure and accessible elections."

Annie Orloff, Secretary of State Spokesperson

Tuesday, 13 Investigates spoke will multiple politicians who filed the complaint. They outlined why each of them chose to file a complaint.

"I think that it really shakes the confidence of people voting, " Democrat Mike Schuster said. "If I were in that commissioner's seat, I would ask for all parties to be involved, Democrats and Republicans, to come together, go over what happened, and figure out how to correct that."

"This is bi-partisan issue. This is something that we all need to work regardless of our party affiliation, regardless of our personal political beliefs," Republican Nathan Baxter said. "This is something that as citizens of this country, we need to make sure works for everybody."

"If there's been a mistake made, then we need to verify where and what that mistake is and then fix it," Republican Jonathan Ambler said. "I mean, there's some kind of mistake that's going on that just has to be addressed."

"Errors can happen, but it would be nice to see a press release so that people understand when they're getting multiple ballots in the mail. What exactly does that mean, which is the correct ballot," Regina Maestri, current Pueblo City Councilwoman, said. "Now is the time to take the concerns seriously and get this rectified so that in the outcome of the general election, we can feel more comfortable with the election itself."

"With the increase in issues with the ballots, if we can't have oversight of some sort from our Secretary of State, and we aren't getting answers from our county clerk, then that just leaves everything open for question," Republican Sarina Adame said.

"I hear from the constituents for the people in my district that they're discouraged," Republican Carol Riggenbach said. "I've got to file this complaint for their sake, and that's why I did it. I believe it's our responsibility. We are in this process."

Primary Elections in Pueblo are one week away. The Secretary of State's Office tells 13 Investigates the observer will assist until all of the votes are tallied.

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Sean Rice

Sean is a reporter based out of Pueblo for KRDO. Learn more about him here.

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