With election day finally upon us, election officials are sure to be on the lookout for any illegal tampering with election equipment to sway the result.
Pueblo County, Colorado officials have happened upon one such instance, a poll worker named Richard Patton, who has been charged with a class 5 felony after attempting to interfere with a voting machine.
The Pueblo Police Department confirmed the arrest on their Facebook page:
According to CBS news, Patton, a registered Democrat, allegedly inserted a USB drive into a voting machine at the polling station where he was working.
This incident happened in June during the Colorado primary elections.
As CBS reports, poll workers heard an odd noise on June 28. When they went to investigate and clean the machine, they saw an error message, which the poll workers promptly reported.
Once reported, it didn’t take very long to trace it back to Patton, who had been the last person to use that booth.
Authorities were quick to assure voters that no election data was accessed and that it had no effect on voting, but the possibility of similar breaches is a concern.
According to The Pueblo Chieftain, Patton will be the first person charged under a new Colorado election law which made tampering with election equipment a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
The law stipulates that offenders can be punished with a one to two year jail sentence and a fine ranging between $1,000 to $100,000.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold explained the reasoning behind these stricter laws in the wake of the 2020 election and the controversy it wrought.
“The continued spread of election conspiracies and the Big Lie is fueling threats to American elections, including efforts to interfere with election equipment,” Griswold told the Chieftain.
“That is why I led a first-in-the-nation law on insider election threats, which increased physical safeguards around voting equipment and made it a felony to tamper with voting equipment. It is vital that anyone who breaks the law in attempts of subverting the will of the people or undermining elections be held responsible.”
Patton was arrested on Thursday by the Pueblo Police Department, and was held at the Pueblo County Judicial Center.
Patton was booked on charges of Tampering with a Voting Machine and Cyber Crimes.
For his part, Patton denies any wrongdoing.
In an interview with the Chieftain, Patton claimed he didn’t even realize he had been accused of anything until the Pueblo Police SWAT unit allegedly broke “down his door” and accused Patton of being a “computer hacker.”
“(These allegations are) demonstrably false because I’m a jock. I’m basic. I like to weightlift. I don’t know anything about coding and I don’t intend to because, frankly, it’s pretty boring,” Patton told the Chieftain.
While no motive has been ascertained, an investigation is still ongoing.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.