Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters speaks to a reporter in February 2020 about the presidential primary election. (Courtesy of Mesa County)
The Mesa County clerk and recorder, Tina Peters, and two other people entered a secure room that contained county election equipment after normal work hours on May 23 — the day that one of the election system hard drive images that were later shared online is believed to have been taken, according to the Colorado secretary of state.
This latest information from Secretary Jena Griswold’s investigation into a “serious breach” of voting security at Peters’ office came in a Monday press release that said Griswold “confirmed the release of two hard drive images from Mesa County election servers by election conspiracy theorists.”
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Griswold has emphasized that no previous or future election is considered compromised due to the breach, and on Monday the press release detailed a layered system, “both preventative and for detection purposes,” in Colorado that keeps the state’s elections secure. Multiple sets of passwords, segmentation and closed networks between counties, restrictions on access, and chain-of-custody controls contribute to this security.
The Mesa County investigation is focused at least in part on chain of custody. The investigation was launched after photos, which revealed passwords, from a May 25 update of the county’s Dominion Voting Systems software were posted online by QAnon leader Ron Watkins. Griswold has since alleged that Gerald Wood, who was not an elections employee, took the photos of election system passwords and was permitted by Peters to attend the May 25 update though he was not authorized to do so.
Peters last week refused to communicate with Griswold’s office, the secretary said, and instead Peters traveled to South Dakota, where she was a featured speaker at an election conspiracy event, called “Cyber Symposium,” presented by former President Donald Trump ally and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. Peters at the event accused Griswold of “raiding” her office.
Besides Peters, Wood and “another Mesa County Clerk and Recorder employee” accessed the secure room after work hours on May 23, according to the Monday press release. Griswold said on Thursday after representatives from her office conducted an inspection that Mesa County’s voting equipment must be replaced. In her latest announcement, Griswold said she will appoint someone to supervise elections in Mesa County.
The director of U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has been alerted to the matter and “does not view this breach as a significant heightening of the election risk landscape,” the press release said.
In addition to the secretary of state’s investigation, the office of 21st Judicial District Attorney Dan Rubinstein is also looking into related potential criminal conduct, Rubinstein confirmed in an email to Newsline.
A Mesa County representative was not immediately available for comment.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 18, 2021, to correct the date when Peters, Wood and another Mesa County employee are said to have accessed a secure room after work hours.
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