Aug 18, 2021 - Politics

Election controversy in Colorado's Mesa County escalates

A photo of Tina Peters with her hand and index finger raised.

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters on Aug. 10 at a conference in South Dakota hosted by Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow and an ally of former President Trump. Photo via YouTube

The head of elections in Mesa County was already in hot water — and now it's beginning to boil.

Driving the news: The FBI announced an investigation Tuesday into the alleged security breach of election equipment at the office of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, a Republican.

  • The federal agency is the third to examine the matter, now teaming up with local prosecutors in Grand Junction and the Colorado secretary of state's office.

This week, Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold said Peters and two others entered a secure area of the Election Division office after hours and violated security protocols by making two copies of a computer hard drive, which were shared widely online, the Daily Sentinel reports.

Why it matters: Due to the alleged breach, Mesa County now must replace all of its voting equipment before the November election or be forced to conduct a hand count.

  • On Tuesday, Griswold appointed Mesa County Treasurer Sheila Reiner to supervise the election and a three-person advisory commission to assist. 
  • Griswold says Peters is not a trusted authority while under investigation, though she lacks the power to remove her from office.

Context: A Colorado secretary of state investigation last week found Peters' actions led to a security breach that leaked private information on a far-right conspiracy site.

  • Peters also recently attended an event in South Dakota that spread misinformation about the election, telling the crowd she has been "persecuted."

The bottom line: Although the state's top elections officials do not believe the state's voting systems are compromised, Mesa County taxpayers will have to foot the bill for new voting equipment before the Nov. 2 election.


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