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June 27, 2024

New Election Protection Laws By Colorado Democrats Go Into Effect

Two new laws will prevent false electors, add protections against deepfake media

DENVER, CO - On July 1, 2024, legislation will go into effect to protect Colorado’s elections by punishing future attempts at “fake elector” schemes and adding protections against deepfake media that falsely depicts 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 law is a proactive step to protect democracy in Colorado.”

“When I served in the Army I took an oath to defend our freedom and our democracy,” said Senator Nick Hinrichsen, D-Pueblo, sponsor of HB24-1150. “‘Fake elector’ schemes and other attempts to overturn our free and fair elections aim to undermine our democracy, and are an insult to that oath and the millions of brave men and women like me who have fought on behalf of our country. This law will ensure that future efforts to create false slates of electors in an attempt to overturn a free and fair election will be punished, creating critical guardrails and protecting the integrity of Colorado’s votes.”

"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 law 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 makes 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 is punishable by up to a $10,000 fine. A person who is convicted of these crimes will be disqualified from serving in the Colorado General Assembly or other public offices.

After the 2020 election, former President Trump and his Republican allies attempted to recruit fake electors in key swing states including Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Mexico, 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 efforts 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. 

HB24-1147 creates 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 will be required to include a disclaimer that the content is not real or truthful.

“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 new law is crucial in protecting our democratic process.”

“Deepfake technology is a direct threat to our democracy, and I am proud to be focused on defending transparency in our elections,” said Senator Chris Hansen, D-Denver, sponsor of HB24-1147. “Voters deserve to know which media they consume is real and which is manipulated so they can make informed decisions at the ballot box. These guardrails are essential to protect the integrity of our elections and ensure fair races for both candidates and voters.”

“Deepfakes can have a harmful effect on the election process and are a real threat to our democracy,” said Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada, sponsor of HB24-1147. "Our legislation safeguards 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.”

“AI is already affecting our electoral process, and it is vital we add protections in time for upcoming elections,” said Senator Janet Buckner, D-Aurora, sponsor of HB24-1147. “This law safeguards our elections by requiring a disclaimer on artificially altered media, so Coloradans can know what's true and not be deceived by bad actors.”

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