While Mike Lindell was spreading election conspiracy theories at the state Capitol yesterday, the El Paso County Commissioners experienced their own version of “stop the steal” as activists took advantage of the comment section of the commissioners’ meeting.
In El Paso County, where the local Republican Party has effectively been taken over by the faction supported by the conservative activist group FEC United, people lined up to speak during the public comment period about their concerns over election integrity and the Board of County Commissioners’ vote to renew the county’s $850,000 contract with Runbeck Election Services. Like Dominion Voting Systems, whose voting machines have been the center of election conspiracies since the 2020 Presidential election, Runbeck, which prints ballots used in elections, has also been the target of conspiratorial speculation.
During a July 17, 2021 town hall in Colorado Springs, Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Cañon City), said, “Here’s a hypothetical for you — and it has been asked — what happens to the ballots that are sent to an address but that person doesn’t live there anymore and the Postal Service, through some grace, returns it? It’s going to go back to the sender, and the sender is Runbeck, and there’s some questions about what they’re doing. What do they do with those ballots? Do they fill them out? Put them in a dropbox that makes it rather easy to spread the extra votes? That’s a concern we have. They did 30 million [ballots], and on top of that, there’s the 168,000 paper ballots on the wrong kind of paper. You heard Rep. [Dave] Williams [R-Colorado Springs] make the point that 5,600 people they found so far in Colorado that were deceased, but on our voting rolls. Arizona came up with the same thing. Thousands.”
Hanks speculation was one of the earliest mentions of Runbeck in Colorado conspiracy circles. Jeff Ellington, president and CEO of Runbeck Election Services, told the Colorado Springs Independent, “For all of our elections partners that utilize our vote-by-mail services, the return address printed on each envelope is for the county elections office in that local jurisdiction. Runbeck Election Services does not handle or receive ANY mail packets that are undeliverable to the voter.”
Ellington also pointed out that the signature verification process is designed to stop that kind of fraud. “Further, a vote-by-mail ballot cannot simply be injected into the system for tabulation without an authentic and verified signature from the voter and a barcode on the envelope identifying the voter for that election,” he said. “The processes and systems set in place ensure that every signature is verified and that every legitimate vote is counted. Ballot return envelopes are specific to an individual voter, which is how we know if a signature is correct or not. If a mismatch is detected, then the ballot is referred to the next review process by local elections officials.”
Adding fuel to the conspiracy fire is the fact that Colorado Springs City Councilor Wayne Williams, who is the husband of El Paso County Commissioner Holly Williams, works part-time for Runbeck as an adviser. Wayne Williams is also running for Mayor of Colorado Springs, competing against El Paso County Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez, among others.
Public commenters included candidates from the FEC United-supported faction of the El Paso County GOP, Dr. Rae Ann Weber, who is running for El Paso County Coronor; Peter Lupia, running for El Paso County Clerk and Recorder; and Dave Winney and Lindsay Moore, who are challenging Cami Bremer and Holly Williams for El Paso County Commissioner.
Additional speakers included ‘Groyper Mommy’ Michelle Malkin, who last November spoke at the white nationalist conference American Renaissance. Malkin is also a codefendant in a defamation lawsuit brought by former Dominion executive Eric Coomer. Coomer claims that by platforming FEC United founder Joe Oltmann she helped spread false information about himself and Dominion Voting Systems.
Due to her husband’s ties to Runbeck, Holly Williams recused herself from yesterday’s vote. Commissioner Carrie Geitner — who is the wife of Rep. Tim Geitner (R-Monument), who has been personally targetted by the FEC United faction and who recently announced he would not seek election to House District 20 — pointed out Gonzalez’s mayoral aspirations, which led Gonzalez to recuse himself from the Runbeck vote.
The remaining commissioners voted 3-0 to approve El Paso County’s contract with Runbeck.
Gonzalez has been courting the FEC United faction in recent months, appearing at a Spunky Patriots event alongside Hanks, Moore, and Winney last month.
Gonzalez has also received pressure from fellow republicans. In an April 3 email obtained by the Colorado Times Recorder from former El Paso County GOP Treasurer and current House District 14 candidate John Pitchford to Gonzalez, Pitchford urges Gonzalez to reconsider the Runbeck vote.
“There was a woman walking around during the CD 5 Assembly with a sign urging people to go to the County Commissioners’ meeting on 5 April at 9:00 AM,” wrote Pitchford. “She is concerned about a proposed $850,000 expenditure for ballots from a company called Runbeck. She also claims Wayne Williams is serves as a senior consultant for this company. Will Holly Williams be voting for this expenditure? Reliable internet sources prove there is a connection. Is this known to you?”
Despite his recusal during the Runbeck vote, Gonzalez has said he does not believe the 2020 Presidential election was stolen. He also declined to endorse Moore or Winney for County Commissioner, saying, “I think we have a good team on the Board right now.”