"The 2020 election has officially concluded."
Those were the words of Secretary of State Jena Griswold as she looked up from signing the certification form for the state's election results and stared into the camera on her laptop for members of the media watching over Zoom.
Colorado's election was marked by its highest turnout ever — 76.4 percent of eligible adults cast a ballot this year, second in the nation only behind Minnesota. It also went off relatively smoothly, in spite of an unusually challenging year.
Griswold said that several county clerks had to manage the election even as wildfires burned through their communities.
"The East Troublesome fire was so close to Hot Sulphur Springs that clerk [Sara] Rosene was forced to evacuate her office in the middle of early voting. Remarkably, thanks to her extraordinary efforts, over 82 percent of Grand County voters cast a ballot this election," she said.
The pandemic also threw a wrench in some counties' plans — Gunnison County had to complete its counting while the clerk and both election employees were sick with COVID-19.
More than half of the ballots returned — 1.7 million voters — enrolled in a state or local ballot tracking system, which sent updates as their ballot was received and processed. Griswold also noted that 11,000 voters whose ballots were flagged for having a problem used the state's new 'Text-2-Cure' process to fix the issue.
Just the day before the certification ceremony, seven GOP state representatives, and one representative-elect, sent a letter to the Speaker of the House, asking for an outside audit of the state's vote-counting equipment, and to convene a special committee to look into how the state conducted the election.
Griswold rejected the idea Colorado's election system needs further vetting, pointing out that the voting equipment counties use was selected by a bipartisan team, and all upgrades have to be certified by federal and state officials. The machines are tested before elections and audited afterward.
"Colorado is considered the safest state to cast a ballot, for good reason, including all the audits that we do," Griswold said.
With the election now certified the next step is for its Electoral College vote. Colorado's Democratic slate of electors will convene at the state Capitol on Dec. 14 to cast their ballots for the winner of the state's popular vote, President-elect Joe Biden.