Editors note: Anticipating ballots hitting mailboxes in the next few days, The Daily Sentinel sat down with Wayne Williams and Sheila Reiner — the two people tasked with leading the execution of this November’s election in Mesa County. The Sentinel asked questions focused on alleged weaknesses in the election system.

The Daily Sentinel: Wouldn’t so many of the issues and concerns about election security be resolved if we just used paper ballots?

Wayne Williams: We do. The standards I established when I was secretary of state require every ballot cast in the state to be a paper ballot. That change occurred in Mesa County because Sheila was one of the first adopters of the new system in the 2015 coordinated election. Even the in-person ballots are now paper ballots.

TDS: You both have said the mail-in voting system in Colorado is secure. How can you be so sure?

Sheila Reiner: The way our system works is that, for each election, the Statewide Voter Registration system creates a unique ballot I.D. that is tied to your voter registration record and also defines the ballot style. Each ballot envelope contains a bar code which is exclusive to you as a voter. So if someone wanted to defraud the system by somehow obtaining piles of ballots from the post office — or whatever the conspiracy theory of the day is — they would have to forge that many people’s signatures with enough of a match for it to get through the system. If they were somehow successful with that, when the real person to whom the ballot belonged came through and tried to vote, the system would not allow it. It would say they already cast a vote, which would cause us to go investigate.

WW: The other part is that we mail the ballot TO the person. It’s not like, “here is a stack of ballots, grab one.” They are mailed to a specific person who has presented some form of ID, which for most people in Colorado, is a driver’s license.

SR: The first thing that happens when a mail ballot comes in is we scan that ballot to see if it’s still a live ballot and that person hasn’t already voted.

TDS: What about someone just printing loads of ballots?

WW: To game this system that way, you would have to somehow come up with the right name that matches the specific bar code that matches that name — and no one else ever votes that name so there is never any follow up. The Colorado system of two-factor verification on our voter rolls has had Homeland Security on multiple occasions confirm that it is not accessible from the outside by any means.

TDS: Are non-citizens voting in the state of Colorado? How would we know one way or another?

WW: The clerks of every county get a list of anyone who is a non-citizen, and the clerks can then remove them from the voter rolls after giving them a chance to say, “hey, I’ve naturalized or there is some other circumstance you’re not aware of.” The reality is, there are very few non-citizens on voter rolls, and very few of those have voted. This kind of thing happens hardly ever. There might have been one or two we were not aware of.

TDS: What happens if a non-citizen casts a ballot?

WW: They will be discovered and referred to the district attorney for prosecution.

SR: When it had happened before — we found one in the state of Colorado leading up to the 2012 election. Then-Secretary of State Scott Gessler started with a list of thousands of potential non-citizens, but it came from a list that was not properly checked, so a lot of citizens were identified as non-citizens. From that over-inclusive list, there was one identified as a non-citizen who was referred for prosecution.

TDS: How can we know that there aren’t massive numbers of non-citizens in this state casting ballots?

WW: Because Homeland Security under the Trump Administration told us there aren’t. It happened under other administrations as well, but this is the most relevant.

TDS: Are you concerned about ballots coming into the state from out of the country?

SR: Those are military and overseas ballots. We have a system in place, and we are one of the leaders in the nation for providing military and overseas citizens the opportunity to vote.

WW: The other category includes missionaries and students from the Grand Valley residing overseas who are able to participate in our elections. Colorado is one of the leaders in assuring that someone stationed on a nuclear submarine protecting our right to vote has the ability to vote.

TDS: We have readers who have shown us the ballot they received from Mesa County side-by-side next to the ballot they received from the county of their former residence in Florida. Two live ballots to the same election. Isn’t that prima facia evidence of fraud in the system?

SR: Step one, it’s the voter’s responsibility to keep their voter registration up to date.

WW: Step two, Colorado was one of the founders of ERIC, which is the Electronic Registration Information Center. It allows us to do a comparison to see if individuals have voted in multiple states. We did a comparison with four other states for the 2016 presidential election. We found 38 individuals who had voted in Colorado and appeared to have voted in another state. We referred those for prosecution. I would note that a plurality of them were unaffiliated voters. The rest were split between Republicans and Democrats.

SR: Step three, prosecution. We had an individual vote here and in Illinois, and if I recall correctly, his fine was $10,000. Casting a fraudulent vote can also result in jail time, particularly if there is intent to defraud.

TDS: What about dead people voting?

WW: We get a list from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that tells us when someone dies. Through ERIC we also get a list from the Social Security Death Index, so even if you die out of state, we now get that information (which used to be a hole in our system). We go through and remove individuals with matching criteria to names on those lists. Just as importantly, for every ballot that’s cast, we do a signature match. While it’s possible that someone learned how to forge the signature of an estranged spouse or a dead parent, we are aggressive in prosecuting these isolated cases. So in one case in Weld County where an individual voted his ex-wife’s ballot, they actually used DNA evidence of the saliva on the envelope to prosecute him as the one who actually cast the ballot.

TDS: Mesa County is ground zero for the claim that the Dominion Voting Systems are somehow game-able, either through outside control or some kind of sleeper zombie algorithm that springs to life during an election and changes votes. How can you be sure that isn’t happening?

WW: Every ballot cast in Colorado is a paper ballot, so we do a series of tests and audits before an election and after an election. During the risk-limiting audit we tell the election judges — always a team comprised of a Democrat and a Republican — to go to the third ballot in the fourth box and verify that the ballots were scanned and tabulated correctly. Georgia, for example, did a hand count of 5 million ballots, and the results between the hand count and the Dominion tabulation were virtually identical. If we have a question about a ballot or an entire election, we can always check it against the paper ballots actually cast.