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Lawsuit seeks to block Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters from overseeing 2022 elections

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold first took action against Peters in the summer of 2021
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 1:38 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) has moved ahead in filing her lawsuit against Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters (R).

As of Jan. 18, Secretary Griswold announced her filing against Clerk Peters to prevent her from overseeing the upcoming 2022 elections. The secretary’s lawsuit asks the overseeing judge to remove Peters as the Designated Election Official during 2022.

Griswold first took action against Peters in the summer of 2021. The secretary of state alleged that the clerk allowed a security breach into county election equipment. Peters was disallowed from supervising the November of 2021 election after a judge formally removed her as the county’s designated election official.

“What happened in Mesa County in 2021 was one of the nation’s first insider attacks where someone elected to oversee elections worked to compromise the elections from within,” explained Griswold.

The secretary is alleging peters allowed an unauthorized individual named Gerald Wood to gain access to county voting equipment. Passwords used to access those voting machines later appeared online, according to Griswold.

Peters is pushing back against Griswold. The clerk argued, “You have to ask yourself, ‘Why would Jena Griswold … and Merrick Garland, and the Colorado AG, be so interested in a clerk in Mesa County that has uncovered some election irregularities?’ What are they trying to hide?”

Peters further argued that, “These are the tactics of a dictator, that’s why we call her ‘Gestapo Griswold.’ Weaponize law enforcement, terrorize your political opponents, then offer to them to have their lives back if they’ll shut up, recant their political beliefs, and agree with you.”

According to a press release from the secretary’s office, the office is requesting the court to appoint Mesa Co. Elections Director Brandi Bantz as Mesa County’s DEO. The secretary’s office also has the support of the Mesa County Commissioners in Bantz’s appointment.

According to Bantz, ”I’m honored that the commissioners have trust in me to appoint me as the designated election official. For myself and for our office it’s going to be business as usual. We will just move forward with planning the upcoming primary election and general election.”

In a press release on the matter, the secretary of state stated that, “Every eligible Coloradan – Republican, Democrat, and Independent alike – has the right to make their voice heard in safe and secure elections. 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 … I will continue to provide the support and oversight needed to ensure the integrity of Colorado’s elections.”

The secretary also announced her intent to appoint former Secretary of State Wayne Williams (R) and current Mesa County Treasurer Sheila Reiner (R) as election supervisors to provide expertise and assistance to Bantz during the election process.

With Bantz stepping in, Reiner expects she will be able to, “resume full duties as Mesa County Treasurer going forward. Of course I will be available if she has any historic information that she needs from me or any support.”

David Levine, an elections integrity fellow with the nonpartisan Alliance for Securing Democracy, has been keeping tabs on the developments regarding the Mesa Co. Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

According to him, “If [Peters] not willing to recant previous remarks, false remarks, about the 2020 election, and if she’s not willing to demonstrate an ability to put the conduct of free and fair elections above any partisan or personal interests she has, then every effort needs to be undertaken to ensure that the folks of Mesa County have election officials who are going to do what it takes to conduct a successful election.”

Clerk Peters has previously cast doubt on the integrity of the Dominion voting machines used in Mesa Co. According to the county, Peters has not presented evidence that any irregularities occurred in the 2020 election. Peters maintains that the election needs to be investigated, and that she is being targeted for doing so.

Read our previous articles about Secretary Griswold’s lawsuit against Clerk Peters:

  1. Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters (R) offered terms to resume election supervision
  2. Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters rejects terms to resume election supervision duties
  3. WATCH: Tina Peters announces her intent to re-run as Mesa County Clerk and Recorder
  4. Tina Peters announces her launch for campaign

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