Douglas County election workers process primary election ballots in Castle Rock on June 28, 2022. (Carl Payne for Colorado Newsline)
No change in El Paso County.
No change in Denver County.
No change in Arapahoe County.
By evening on the last day before a Thursday deadline for election officials in Colorado’s 64 counties to complete a recount of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters’ primary election loss in June, the Republican candidate for Colorado secretary of state did not appear to have gained any ground beyond single-digit votes out of thousands.
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Peters, an election denier who claimed fraud in the June 28 GOP primary, which she lost to Pam Anderson by 14 percentage points, paid about $255,000 to state authorities to have the recount undertaken. Much of the money she raised from individual donors since the election, and she benefited from publicity boosts courtesy of national election deniers, such as Steve Bannon and Mike Lindell.
As of 7 p.m. on Wednesday, 61 counties had completed the recount and reported unofficial results that showed Peters netted three extra votes, while Anderson netted six extra votes, according to Matt Crane, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association. There was no net change for Mike O’Donnell, who came in third in the race. Crane did not expect results from the final three counties to alter the general outcome of the recount.
Each of the three votes Peters unofficially gained as of Wednesday cost $85,000.
“I would hope that the people that donated to her to be able to do this would see they’d be better off giving money to those Nigerian prince emails than to Tina Peters,” Crane said.
I would hope that the people that donated to her to be able to do this would see they'd be better off giving money to those Nigerian prince emails than to Tina Peters.
– Matt Crane, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association
The recount deadline is Thursday, and a spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office said late Wednesday that the office would wait until Thursday when every county reported their tallies before making an announcement about results.
But officials in individual counties had started to announce their own results, including El Paso, Denver, Araphoe and Boulder. None reported changes to the official primary results beyond a couple votes here and there, which is expected.
Crane said any candidate in Colorado has a right to request a recount and, unless the loss margin is close enough to trigger an automatic recount, submit the funds to pursue it.
“The next thing I would say is that if you lost your election by 88,000 votes, and you were thinking there’s going to be a change, you either don’t know the process, or you should stop trying to deceive other people,” Crane said.
Peters, who has advanced election conspiracy theories, is facing a grand jury indictment on felony and misdemeanor charges for her involvement in a security breach in her county’s election office during a routine secure software update last year. Though she is the Mesa County clerk, a judge barred her from overseeing elections.
Crane said Peters’ attempts to “deceive people and lie about the process” endanger election officials and workers.
“Does that deception and those lies create a more hostile work environment, and potential threats for election officials? They do. And it’s just one of the many disgraceful things that Tina has done and continues to do,” Crane said.
Peters was joined by three Republican candidates who ran unsuccessfully in the primary for local and state offices in El Paso County and paid for recounts of their races in that county.
El Paso was the only county recounting multiple races. Besides Peters’ race, the county recounted the races for Peter Lupia, running for El Paso County clerk; Rae Ann Weber, running for El Paso County coroner; and Lynda Zamora Wilson, running for state Senate District 9.
Peters in fact lost ground in El Paso by one net vote and remained behind by 10 percentage points. There were at most single-digit vote changes in the local-race recounts; Weber, with five extra votes, gained the most of any El Paso candidates.
The local candidates paid about $21,000 each for the recount. Four other El Paso candidates sought recounts but were unable to pay the full fee. They were Lindsay Moore and David Winney, both running for El Paso County commissioner; Summer Groubert, running for state House District 18; and Todd Watkins, running for El Paso County sheriff. The seven candidates and Peters are part of the Colorado Recount Coalition, formed to support their efforts.
Those efforts include two lawsuits. The coalition members except for Peters filed a lawsuit late last week in El Paso District Court against El Paso Clerk Chuck Broerman and Secretary of State Jena Griswold, claiming that for each of the candidates about half the fee they were required to pay was for a purpose that was “unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious.”
On Wednesday the secretary’s office said about the suit in a statement to Newsline, “This lawsuit is without merit. The recount has been conducted under Colorado election law and rule. The Secretary of State’s Office looks forward to proving once again in court that Colorado elections are safe and secure.”
The members including Peters on Monday filed a second lawsuit in Denver District Court, also against Broerman and Griswold, that sought to stop the recount in El Paso County and order Broerman, a Republican, to hand over records to Griswold, a Democrat, so that she may conduct the recount.
As of Wednesday evening, Broerman had asked the court in El Paso to dismiss the plaintiff’s lawsuit, and no response from either defendant had yet been filed in the Denver case.
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