Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters speaks in front of the Mesa County Justice Center in Grand Junction on Jan. 13, 2022. Conservative activist and Peters supporter Sherronna Bishop is at right. (Sharon Sullivan for Colorado Newsline)
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced she is suing to bar Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters from overseeing elections this year — an expansion of Griswold’s efforts last year that prevented Peters from running the November election.
“As Clerk Peters is unwilling to commit to following election security protocols, I am taking action to ensure that Mesa County voters have the elections they deserve,” Griswold said in a press release Tuesday. “I will continue to provide the support and oversight needed to ensure the integrity of Colorado’s elections.”
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Peters allegedly allowed an unauthorized person to attend a software update for Mesa County’s Dominion Voting Systems election equipment in May, after which confidential passwords and other sensitive information from the county’s voting system were posted online, creating a serious election security vulnerability. Griswold in August sued to prohibit Peters from overseeing the Nov. 2 election, and a judge ruled against Peters.
Last week Griswold demanded that Peters sign a document promising to protect the security of future elections if she were to return to her role as designated election official for Mesa County. The agreement would have imposed severe restrictions — under an accompanying election order, for example, Griswold would have appointed an election supervisor who would oversee every decision and action taken by Peters in relation to the 2022 primary and general elections — and Peters refused to sign it.
Local and state officials announced on Thursday that the Mesa County grand jury will investigate allegations related to the election vulnerabilities Peters helped create. Also on Thursday, Peters told a group of supporters in Grand Junction during an event at the Mesa County Justice Center that she is running for reelection.
On Tuesday, the Mesa County commissioners unanimously approved a resolution naming Brandi Bantz the county’s designated election official, to replace Peters. Bantz is a longtime elections professional in Colorado and was Mesa County’s director of elections last year. Bantz is also the person Griswold in her lawsuit asks the court to name as the Mesa County designated election official.
Peters has spread baseless claims about fraud during the 2020 presidential election and appeared at a “cyber symposium” held by election denier Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow.
During her appearance in Grand Junction last week, Peters said she would never agree to what she called a “gag order” from the secretary of state.
“I’ve never done anything wrong — I’m going to show that,” she told supporters. “I could sign a gag order and go home. However, I listen to you. You’re my boss who elected me. Do you want me to stay and fight?”
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