By Jesse Sarles

(CBS4) – Mesa County must replace its election equipment after a security breach. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said in a news conference on Thursday morning that Tina Peters, the county clerk in the western Colorado county, lied to her office.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold speaks during a news conference about to the Mesa County election breach investigation on August 12, 2021 in Denver. From her right is Judd Choate, Colorado State Election Director, Matt Crane, Executive Director of Colorado County Clerks Association, and Chris Beall, Colorado Deputy Secretary of State.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold speaks during a news conference about to the Mesa County election breach investigation on Thursday in Denver. From her right is Judd Choate, Colorado State Election Director, Matt Crane, Executive Director of Colorado County Clerks Association, and Chris Beall, Colorado Deputy Secretary of State. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Griswold, a Democrat, says the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s office directed staff to turn off video surveillance of its voting equipment prior to a May 25 voting machine update session, thus making it unable to verify the chain of custody of the machines.

“This is troubling for the entire state of Colorado to have someone in a trusted position, literally trusted to protect democracy, allow this type of situation to occur. To be very clear, Mesa County Clerk and Recorder allowed a security breach and by all evidence at this point assisted it,” Griswold said.

Furthermore, Griswold said an unauthorized person attended the May 25 session. That was when, Griswold said, passwords were accessed and recently posted online by what she called conspiracy theorists. Griswold said Peters was misleading about the employment status of that unauthorized person.

Peters has denounced an investigation by the secretary of state. Griswold said Peters isn’t cooperating.

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters (credit: CBS)

The Mesa County District Attorney’s Office is also investigating the incident.

The breach did not happen during the past election or create any risk to state elections.

Peters, a Republican, is attending a conference this week on unbacked claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Jesse Sarles