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Judge rules Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters is barred from supervising November election

By: - October 14, 2021 1:04 pm

Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters speaks during Mike Lindell’s “Cyber Symposium.” (screenshot of livestream)

Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters will not oversee November’s election, a district court judge ruled Wednesday after reviewing evidence that Peters allegedly allowed a breach in the county’s election system during a major software update.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold filed a lawsuit in August to remove Peters as a designated elected official for the Nov. 2 coordinated election. 

The ruling, from Mesa County District Court Judge Valerie Robinson, said that Griswold’s office “met the burden of showing that Peters and (deputy clerk Belinda) Knisley have committed a breach and neglect of duty and other wrongful acts” and therefore the two are “unable or unwilling to appropriately perform the duties of the Mesa County Designated Election Official.”

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Peters allegedly allowed an unauthorized person, Gerald Woods, to attend a software update for the county’s Dominion Voting Systems election equipment in May. After that update, confidential passwords and other sensitive information from the county’s voting system were posted online, creating a serious election security vulnerability. The passwords were accessible only to someone physically present.

Before that update, Knisley also requested that the office’s security cameras be turned off.

Amid investigations from local, state and federal entities, Peters left the county. She spoke at an August conference hosted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a supporter of former president Donald Trump who has made baseless claims of widespread voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election.

Peters’ unwillingness to cooperate with investigators was brought up in Wednesday’s ruling as well.

“Therefore, the Court finds that Peters and Knisley breached their duties by failing to follow the rules and orders of the Secretary and the Code, neglected their duties by failing to take adequate precautions to protect confidential information, and committed wrongful acts by being untruthful,” Robinson’s ruling reads.

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In a statement, Griswold said that Peters risked the integrity of the county’s elections.

“Clerk Peters seriously compromised the security of Mesa County’s voting system. The Court’s decision today bars Peters from further threatening the integrity of Mesa’s elections and ensures Mesa County residents have the secure and accessible election they deserve,” she said.

Former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams will serve as Mesa County’s designated election official for the Nov. 2 election. County Treasurer Sheila Rainer will serve as the election supervisor for the contest. 

Peters said she plans to appeal the ruling, according to CPR.

Peters is in her first term as county clerk. She has not yet registered with the secretary of state’s office to run for reelection next year.

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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

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