Mesa County Commissioners Cody Davis, Janet Rowland and Scott McInnis, pictured at an Aug. 23, 2021, meeting, voted to replace Dominion Voting Systems equipment. (Screenshot/Mesa County website)
The Mesa County Board of County Commissioners voted Tuesday to replace Dominion Voting Systems equipment, which the Colorado secretary of state recently decertified after a leak of system passwords and hard drive images.
Commissioners voted to extend through 2029 the county’s previous agreement with Dominion for voting equipment, software and technical support, at a new starting cost of $96,200 in 2022 with a 2% annual increase in subsequent years. Under the contract, Dominion will replace equipment at no additional cost to the county.
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Mesa County commissioners also voted Tuesday to add a Ballot Audit Review module to their previous contract with Dominion Voting Systems. At a cost of $3,300 per election, this will allow voters to view images of ballots cast in an election.
The previous contract — which was agreed to in 2016 and would have applied through 2023 — would have cost Mesa County several thousand dollars less in 2022 and 2023. Under that contract, Mesa County had agreed to pay Dominion $88,800 in 2022 and $90,500 in 2023.
Switching to another state-approved contractor would have come at a much steeper cost for the county, because it would have required Mesa County to pay for the new equipment, Commissioner Janet Rowland said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced Aug. 12 that the county’s voting equipment would be decertified and would have to be replaced before the November election unless Mesa County chose to conduct a hand count of ballots. Griswold, a Democrat, has accused Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters of allowing an unauthorized person, Gerald Wood, to attend a May software upgrade for the county’s election system.
After system passwords were later posted on the website of a conspiracy theorist, Mesa County voting equipment was no longer secure, Griswold said. The incident is under three separate investigations — by the Colorado secretary of state, the 21st Judicial District attorney and the FBI.
Griswold imposed a deadline of Aug. 30 for Mesa County to have new equipment in place, so the county would have time to get November ballots to military and overseas voters.
Some Mesa County voters have come to Peters’ defense. A group of around 200 people rallied in Grand Junction on Saturday to show their support of Peters, a Republican.
Peters has not responded to multiple requests for comment from Colorado Newsline.
After the secretary of state’s office announced its investigation into the password leak, Peters spoke Aug. 10 at a South Dakota “Cyber Symposium” hosted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, where speakers theorized about widespread voter fraud without providing credible evidence, and they falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.
On Sunday, Lindell interviewed Peters in his online show, “The Lindell Report,” according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. Peters told Lindell during the interview that she didn’t trust Sheila Reiner, the Republican Mesa County treasurer and former county clerk whom Griswold has appointed to supervise county elections.
Following Griswold’s Aug. 17 appointment of Reiner as supervisor, Mesa County commissioners voted that same day to reject Reiner and appoint former Secretary of State Wayne Williams — a Republican who currently serves in a nonpartisan role on Colorado Springs City Council — to supervise Mesa County elections instead.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis said officials had settled on a new solution: Reiner and Williams would work as a team to supervise elections.
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