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Complaints filed to remove Peters from office

(KKCO)
Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 9:41 PM MDT
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Tina Peters continues to be in hot water. On Friday, six election complaints were filed with the Secretary of State's Election to remove Peters from office.

Complaints include, failing to properly test the ballot sorting machine and failing to mark rejected envelopes.

”That is a huge deal. They are using a piece of equipment that someone can challenge. The election integrity is important and things like that really put a big question mark over it,” says Amanda Polson, Recall Coordinator.

“We did address everything that was listed in there and we feel like we’re in full compliance of the law,” says Brandy Bantz, Director of Elections.

Another complaint called out safety regulations… saying multiple staff members weren’t wearing a mask.

“For health reasons, they don’t. We’ve told them that it is a rule that they need to wear one if they’re able to. I’m a lung cancer survivor so I myself don’t wear a mask,” says Mesa County Clerk, Tina Peters.

Just last week, it was reported that ballots were seen flying across the parking lot and into the street. Surveillance shows a driver in a pickup truck placing two ballot envelopes on the drop-box lip rather than putting them into the slot, and drove away. Peters says after research, those ballots were counted. The recall committee has set up petitions for residents to sign if they question peter’s ability to run office. They currently have fewer than 4,000 signatures. Of the six complaints that were filed by a watcher, the Peters camp says they’re not worried about any of them.

“They’re picking and choosing what they lead the pubic to believe,” says Peters.

The recall committee wants to make it clear that these six complaints that were filed did not come from them. They came from a watcher of the Democratic Party that they work closely with.

Petitions will be available until August 3rd.

Locations: 200 S. Spruce St from 10am-1pm and Palisade First Baptist Church parking lot on the corner of W 5th and Kluge from 10am-1pm. A permanent location is available every Wednesday from 1 pm to 3 pm at 310 N 7th St. Grand Junction, 81501.

Below are the six complaints for the Mesa County Democratic Central Committee followed individually by the Clerk & Recorders Office responses.

June 26,2020

COMPLAINT

1. While watching the mail ballot room process on 6/23/2020 I observed 6 judges and 3 staff members not wearing masks. Clerk Tina Peters was in and out of the room also without a mask. This is a violation of SOS Rule 27.3.1 A county clerk must ensure that all election judges and staff wear masks, and any other personal protective equipment required by the county or location, while receiving and processing ballots.

RESPONSE

Brandi Bantz, Director of Elections “All judges were informed in training that wearing a mask during the processing of ballots is a requirement. Some judges indicated, due to health reasons, they were unable to wear a mask at all times and some aren't able to at all.”

COMPLAINT

2. The Mesa County Elections Office has missed the June 15th deadline to appoint the canvass board for the June 30 primary election. This is the third election in a row that this deadline has been missed. This is a violation of CRS 1-10-101 (1)(a). 1-10-101. Canvass board for partisan elections - appointment, fees, oaths. (1) (a) At least fifteen days before any primary, general, congressional vacancy, or special legislative election, the county chairpersons of each of the two major political parties in each county shall certify to the county clerk and recorder, in the manner prescribed by such clerk and recorder, the appointment of one or more registered electors to serve as a member of the county canvass board. The appointees, together with the county clerk and recorder, constitute the county canvass board. Each minor political party whose candidate is on the ballot and each unaffiliated candidate whose name is on the ballot in such election may designate, in the manner prescribed by such clerk and recorder, one watcher to observe the work of the county canvass board.

RESPONSE

Brandi Bantz, Director of Elections “I spoke to both Kevin McCarney, Republican Party Chair, and Maria Keenan, Democratic Party Chair, about appointing the same person to do Logic and Accuracy, Canvass and the Risk Limiting Audit. They both agreed and informed me that both of them have been the representative for many elections. Both Kevin and Maria signed the Canvass Board Member Oath dated June 2, 2020, well before the June 15, 2020 deadline to appoint.”

COMPLAINT

3. The Mesa County Elections Office also missed the June 15th deadline to appoint the audit board for the risk limiting audit. Again, this is the third election in a row that this deadline has been missed. 25.2.2(c) Audit board. No later than 15 days before election day, the designated election official must appoint an audit board to conduct the risk-limiting audit. The audit board must consist of electors nominated by the major political party county chairpersons. The designated election official must give written notice to the county chairpersons of their obligation to nominate audit board members and may designate appropriately affiliated electors as audit board members if one or both county chairpersons fail to do so in a timely manner.

RESPONSE

Brandi Bantz, Director of Elections “I spoke to both Kevin McCarney, Republican Party Chair, and Maria Keenan, Democratic Party Chair, about appointing the same person to do Logic and Accuracy, Canvass and the Risk Limiting Audit. They both agreed and informed me that both of them have been the representative for many elections. Both Kevin and Maria signed the Canvass Board Member Oath dated June 2, 2020, well before the June 15, 2020 deadline to appoint.”

COMPLAINT

4. When a ballot is rejected, election judges are required to mark the envelope as rejected and the reason for rejection per CRS 1-7.5-204(2). The envelopes are not marked, instead they are kept in trays in the mail ballot processing room where they run the risk of being mistakenly opened and counted. 1-7.5-204. Preparing to count mail ballots - rejections. (2) If the self-affirmation on the return envelope is invalid, the election judges shall mark the envelope "rejected" and shall write on the envelope the reason for the rejection. The envelope shall be set aside without being opened, and the ballot, if cured, shall be counted.

RESPONSE

Brandi Bantz, Director of Elections “All statuses are notated in SCORE, rejected as well as accepted, so the judge is marking the envelope as rejected in the statewide voter registration system. We do not physically "write" on the envelope, but they are in a designated tray labeled with the reject reason (Signature Discrepancy, No Signature, No ID provided, etc.) placed on a cart behind the Lead Election Staff's desk. Rejected ballots are clearly labeled, stored on a completely separate cart from ballots being received and processed.”

COMPLAINT

5. I asked if the Agilis ballot sorter and Automated Signature Recognition had been tested prior to the start of the election. Elections Director Brandi Bantz who was hired in April and told me no test had been done on this equipment during the time she has been employed. I asked for any kind of documentation showing that the required testing had been performed. Ideally, they would have provided the ASR report, the date and information on how many ballots were tested along with the results of the test. None of this was available so I was willing to accept test envelopes with a date stamp and signature, or even just the date of the test so I could request the video and verify that it was completed. Nothing has been provided. The vendor has recommended a software upgrade that Mesa County has not done. As a result, the ballots are being sorted and signatures verified by untested and outdated equipment. Testing the ballot sorting machine prior to an election is required by SOS Rule 7.8.10. Testing ASR is required by SOS Rule 7.8.11(a)(1). 7.8.10 If the county uses a ballot sorting and signature capture device, the county clerk must test the device before using it in an election to ensure that it properly sorts envelopes, and accurately and clearly captures the signature on the envelope for comparison to the correct voter record. 7.8.11(a) The county clerk must test Signature Verification Devices before use in an election. (1) The testing must verify the accuracy of the device and ensure that the device will not accept a signature that a reasonably trained election judge would reject.

RESPONSE

Brandi Bantz, Director of Elections “I started on May 11, 2020. I personally met with Patti Inscho a couple of times since I started working here. She has asked me a number of questions, which I answered or told her I needed to check with others if the task took place before I started working for Mesa County. I didn't want to assume or give her false information. After our last meeting, I spoke with a staff member who has worked here in Mesa County longer than I have and Patti was sent an email asking for her requests in writing so she was provided what she was looking for and nothing was missed. The email was sent to Patti on June 23rd and everything requested in the email was provided on June 25th.” “The Agilis machine was moved, tested and training done by Runbeck here on site before the Primary election. March 30, 2020 – April 1, 2020.”

“The binder with the ASR reports that had been audited by our bipartisan team was shown to Patti while she was onsite. Audited on a daily basis.”

COMPLAINT

6. Section 11 of the Election Plan indicates that “the county will print the elector’s name under or near the self-affirmation signature line on the ballot-return envelope” in accordance with SOS Rule 7.2.7. This was not done and no explanation is given. The name of the voter is only printed as part of the mailing address. While it is on the same side of the envelope it is not at all close to the signature line. This is a failure on the part of Mesa County to comply with the terms of the approved Elections Plan. Additionally, I’m concerned by the length of time between the Plan being submitted on 3/2/2020 and State approval on 5/6/2020. Considering the 15-day deadline for the state to respond once the Election Plan is submitted, 2 months between submittal of the plan and approval seems to indicate some kind of problem. 7.2.7 Where practicable, the county must print the elector’s full name under or near the self-affirmation signature line on each ballot return envelope. If not practicable for some or all ballot return envelopes, the county must explain why in its election plan.

RESPONSE

Brandi Bantz, Director of Elections “The envelopes and election plan were approved by the Secretary of State's office. The voters printed name is under the signature line in the mailing section. Rule says under or near.” The Mesa County Clerk and Recorder along with the Elections Office has been under scrutiny recently for their inability to conduct an election in a manner that meets all the requirements set forth in law. For this office to continue to fail to meet all of the laws that protect the integrity of our election is unacceptable. It undermines voter confidence in the results of the election and the casts doubt on our election process.

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