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March 8, 2024

Colorado Democrats Advance Election Protection Bills

Two bills would prevent false electors, add protections against deepfake media

DENVER, CO - The House today debated legislation to prevent false electors and add protections against deepfake media that falsely portray political candidates.

“In 2020, our country experienced an attack on democracy when the former president and his supporters tried to overturn the election results,” said Rep. Lorena Garcia, D-Unincorporated Adams County, sponsor of HB24-1150. "Donald Trump organized an effort to replace the electoral college voters with imposter electors who would cast their vote for him instead of Biden, the actual winner. This scheme ultimately failed, but we must be firm that these efforts can never materialize again. Our bill is a proactive step to protect democracy in Colorado.”

"Our nation has survived for centuries based on the people's faith in our democracy.  I took my first oath to protect and defend that democracy when I was 17 years old and I continue to honor that oath today,"  said Rep. Jennifer Parenti, D-Erie, sponsor of HB24-1150. “Schemes to undermine our presidential elections are a direct attack on that democracy and the values upon which our nation was founded. This legislation clarifies that those who participate in or conspire to create a false slate of electors are committing forgery and perjury and are therefore subject to prosecution under Colorado law.  The legislature has a duty to the people of Colorado to send a strong message that elections matter and we will do everything in our power to protect the integrity of their votes.”

HB24-1150 would make it a crime of perjury and forgery to create, serve, or conspire to create or serve in a false slate of presidential electors. Each crime would be punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and may include up to 364 days in prison. A person who is convicted of these crimes would be disqualified from serving in the Colorado General Assembly.

After the 2020 election, Trump and his Republican allies attempted to recruit fake electors in key swing states in an attempt to overturn President Biden’s victory. John Eastman, an attorney and advisor to Trump, was one of 18 people indicted with the former president for their alleged effort to overturn Georgia’s election results in 2020. He is accused of attempting to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to either delay Congress’ certification of electoral votes on January 6, 2021 or reject some states’ slate of electors to allow alternate electors who would support Trump. 

“Deepfakes of candidates for elected office are created to spread misinformation and disrupt our fair election process,” said Rep. Junie Joseph, D-Boulder, sponsor of HB24-1147. "Coloradans deserve to know if the videos they are watching are fake so they can make accurate, informed decisions. Artificial intelligence poses a real threat to our elections, and our legislation is crucial in protecting our democratic process.”

“Deepfakes can have a major negative effective on the election process and are a real threat to our democracy,” said Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada, sponsor of HB24-1147. "Our legislation would safeguard our elections by requiring AI-generated deepfake content to include a disclaimer and establishing legal avenues for candidates who have been negatively impacted by deepfake technology. Colorado voters should know what candidates actually say and not be deceived by depictions of things they did not.”

HB24-1147 would create new regulations for people who use artificial intelligence and deepfake-generated content that includes candidates for elected office. Deepfake media that includes a candidate for elected office would be required to include a disclaimer that the content is not real or truthful.

Under the bill, a candidate who is the subject of an undisclosed deepfake communication can pursue civil action and file a complaint with the office the Secretary of State.

In February 2024, deepfake audio of President Biden was sent via robocall in New Hampshire to discourage voters from participating in the primary election.

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