An El Paso County ballot drop off box in the parking lot of the Boot Barn Hall at Bourbon Brothers in Colorado Springs on Oct. 31, 2021 (Julia Fennell/Colorado Newsline)
A group of Republican candidates for state and local offices, including Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who lost their Colorado primary elections in June are asking a court to halt a ballot recount process that they paid to initiate.
The group, members of the Colorado Recount Coalition, filed a lawsuit Monday in Denver District Court that seeks to stop the recount in El Paso County and order that county’s clerk, Chuck Broerman, a Republican, to hand over records to the secretary of state, Jena Griswold, a Democrat, so that she may conduct the recount.
Every candidate in the group besides Peters is running for a local or state office in El Paso.
The same group of candidates except for Peters filed another lawsuit late last week in El Paso District Court against Broerman and Griswold claiming that for each of the candidates about half the fee they were required to pay for the recount was for a purpose that was “unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious.”
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Members of the group have claimed the primary was fraudulent, though the results have been affirmed by Republican and Democratic officials, and none of the candidates lost by close enough margins to trigger an automatic recount.
Three of the local candidates in the lawsuits paid a recount fee, about $21,000 each. They were 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. Four of the candidates 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. Peters, running for secretary of state, paid a much higher fee of $255,912.33, since her campaign for a statewide office involves recounts in Colorado’s 64 counties.
El Paso is the only county conducting recounts in multiple races.
The Denver lawsuit claims the El Paso canvass board failed to properly test machines in accordance with state law regarding election recounts in that it neglected to compare a machine count of ballots with a hand count.
“To date, the Board has not conducted the required comparison,” the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit repeats an assertion long voiced by Colorado “election integrity” activists — that the election machines, especially the Dominion Voting Systems machines used in 62 Colorado counties, are not secure or properly certified, and it asks for the recount to be conducted by hand.
The plaintiffs say, “The recount is not being conducted impartially, but instead is unfair, rushed and executed poorly,” and they suggest that Broerman is incapable of being impartial, noting that he “was allowed to serve as the election official and canvass board member in an election for which he was a candidate and for the races of his close colleagues.”
In an emailed statement to Newsline, Broerman said, “We are conducting the requested recount according to Colorado Law. Any claims to the contrary are blatantly false.”
The plaintiffs want the state to pay for the recount they hope to force Griswold to conduct. They also want El Paso County to pay for the recount efforts that have so far occurred and for the recount fees the candidates have paid to be returned to them.
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.
Secretary of state spokesperson Annie Orloff told Newsline that neither Griswold’s office nor the attorney general’s office had been served with the lawsuit.
“Until a lawsuit is served and the Court schedules a hearing on the case, the Secretary of State’s Office cannot comment on the specifics of the allegations,” she wrote. “The Office will continue to follow all laws and rules governing discretionary recounts.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:33 p.m., Aug. 2, 2022, to include a statement from the secretary of state’s office.
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