MAGA Election Secretary Tina Peters accused of not counting ballots in local races


Grand Junction Daily Sentinel via Mackenzie Lange / AP

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel via Mackenzie Lange / AP

Sitting on the stage The most hyped election conspiracy event This year, Tina Peters, secretary of Mesa County, Colorado, described herself as a crusade for election security.

“I’ve seen it objectively,” Peters said during his speech at the possible problems with election data. My Pillow CEO Michael Lindell’s “Cyber ​​Symposium” this month. “There are some contradictions I can’t deny, and I tell people,” I can’t see some of these. ” If I’m going to be honest with the people of Mesa County and Colorado, and all of you, I can’t see some of these. “

However, at his home in Mesa County, some current and former officials have different memories of the tenure of Peters, who oversees the election.

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In 2019, her first year as a Peters clerk, her office was accused of leaving over 570 countless ballots in the box, well past the elections. Less than a year later, one of her office dropboxes leaked ballots and floated in the summer breeze. Peters reportedly sneaked underground in a safe home provided by Lindel after allegedly participating in a breach of voting machine data in Mesa County this year. The data quickly arrived at the plot website, and Peters became a folk hero in the MAGA set and was the subject of an FBI investigation.

Peters (who did not return a request for comment) took office in 2019 after his predecessor, Sheila Liner, reached his term limit. What followed was an unusually exaggerated tenure in a typical low-drama role.

While overseeing the November 2019 general election, Peters’ office forgot to count 574 votes and instead left unattended in a dropbox outside her office for several months. The slip-up coincided with the rush of departures from Peters’ office. In December 2019, nearly 20 of Peters’ 32 staff departed. Grand Junction Daily Sentinel It was reported at that time. In late February 2020, more staff resigned a few days after the missing ballot was discovered. Increase the number of departures to 20 or more..

The Colorado Secretary of State told Peters to summarize her actions.

“The Secretary of State has appointed someone [clerk’s] Amanda Polson, a returning officer under Reiner, told The Daily Beast.

Patty Insho, a Democratic and experienced former Mesa County Secretary employee, was hired to support Peters’ elections. However, just two months after Insho’s role, Peters fired her and accused her of not doing her assigned job. Insho firmly denied the claim. The rift became ugly, and Peters staff allegedly not working during the pandemic filed a criminal accusation against Insho. NS Colorado Sun Previously reported. Police rejected the report.

“Tina didn’t want to fight the facts,” Insho told The Daily Beast. “She wanted to hurt people. She did a lot of untrue things about me and said. It hurt my reputation and it’s hard to fight back.”

Expecting to hire Insho, Polson saw her dismissal as a bad sign.

“In essence, that person [Inscho] I was locked out, “Polson said. “Nothing was improved in the office. We thought she hadn’t handled the ballot issue correctly yet. There are some lines that election management can’t cross. That’s one of them. I don’t count the ballots to count. “

In May 2020, Polson officially launched an effort to bring back Peters. The campaign will handle Peters’ lost ballots, staff turnover, a series of controversial project costs (including food over $ 3,000), and her decision not to oversee two town-level elections. There was a problem with. (The town was forced to oversee their own elections, They cost a couple of times The general cost of voting run by the county. )

Soon, the recall campaign had another data point. The ballot drop-off box set up by Peters’ office for the 2020 primary appeared to be defective, and the completed ballot was blown across the parking lot. Peters accused the local couple of reporting the problem, claiming that Leak was staged.The couple denied the claim in an interview with NS Daily sentinelThe reporter also noticed an ongoing problem with ballots staying in the dropbox.

Polson participated in her signature collection campaign by Insho and sometimes by Peters’ predecessor Sheila Reiner. “I agreed with the group that things weren’t going right,” Reiner told The Daily Beast. “I didn’t believe Tina was doing a good job.”

She collected several signatures for the recall, but said she was not one of the organizers. Still, her involvement sacrificed her. Reiner said he was hostile to Peters’ supporters who opposed the recall.

“I’m a Republican,” she said. “There are other Republicans who feel I’m not loyal to the brand. Let’s say that.”

Peters sometimes participated in a counterattack against her critics. When the state appointed a treasurer in a nearby county as the independent supervisor of the recall, Peters filed an official complaint about the treasurer’s party (former Republican, now Democrat). Its accountant, Teak Simonton, said the claim was unfounded. This is because most of Simonton’s role was signature verification and other confusing tasks.

“She probably knows that there’s really nothing that can be handled improperly, based on one opinion about the situation,” Simonton told The Daily Beast. “The law is very simple and explains in great detail how to manage and verify signatures. Therefore, her concerns were really unjustified. Everything that would have been done is verifiable and transparent. I’m a Democrat, so I think she wanted to strengthen her position by reducing my engagement. “(Simonton was also tasked with editing a report on Peters’ office. Suffering, there she praised Peters staff Criticized the clerk As “distrustful, often rude and hostile.” )

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Ultimately, the recall effort reduced the number of signatures by about 1,200, embarrassing the 12,129 signers needed to move forward by August 2020.

“I honestly believe that without the pandemic, we would have passed the petition if there had been a large rally,” Insho said. “We’ve reached enough names. It was hard because everything was shut down.”

Frustrated, the recall organizers were largely unreliable, but they had no choice but to see Peters settle down to manage the 2020 general election.

“For those of us involved in the recall, it was a huge burden on us, both mentally and physically,” Polson said. “We all took a big step and if the recall failed, she thought it was really someone else’s problem at that point. We did what we could to deal with it, but it worked. I didn’t go. “

When Donald Trump won in Mesa County in November 2020, but not in Colorado or the United States as a whole, Peters promoted election conspiracy theory on Twitter. And by May 2021, investigators claimed she had become personally involved in the plot.

On May 25th or shortly before, Peters or someone in her office switched off a security camera that monitors county voting machines. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold argues.. Peters was accused on the 25th of allowing an unauthorized person using the name “Geraldwood” to access the machine and make copies of the data. This data was quickly leaked to former conspiracy theorist Ron Watkins, who was the administrator. Fringe Forum 8 kun. Fellow travelers like Watkins and Lindel tried to claim that the leaked data suggested fraud by voting machine company Dominion, but failed. (Dominion sues Lindel and other election conspiracy theorists for defamation.)

Immediately after the breach was announced, Peters rode Lindel Private jet At his “Cyber ​​Symposium” in South Dakota, she addressed the “mismatch” of voting data in Mesa County. (Peters also used the taxpayer’s money to buy a ticket for United Airlines for the symposium, which she listed as a “meeting” in the project costs. NS Daily sentinel report.. Even bigger is the cost of replacing the 41 voting technologies that were compromised during the breach. )

Peters denies data breach fraud, but the breach is currently under investigation by local, state, and federal governments. And Peters can’t be found anywhere. last week, Lindel told the vice He said he was helping Peters hide in a private place (originally Texas, but she later moved for a security concert).

For critics in his hometown of Peters, it was the latest development in the election security story and should have ended one or two ballot blunders.

“It’s a little scary to see. Some of us on the recall committee worked in election offices. It was really hard to see the work and trust we built collapsed.” Polson said. “We thought something worse would happen. It was a question of when, how, and what to do.”

For more information, see The Daily Beast.

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