By Jennifer McRae

MESA COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold has proceeded with a lawsuit to remove Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters as the Designated Election Official. The move comes after an unauthorized person leaked election equipment passwords from the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold speaks during a press 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 press 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. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

In the filing, Wayne Williams is requested to be appointed as the DEO and Sheila Reiner is requested to be appointed as the Director of Elections in Mesa County “to ensure the smooth and secure operations of the November 2021 elections.”

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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.

Griswold also 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.

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Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters

(credit: CBS)

“My priority is ensuring that the voters of Mesa County have accessible and secure elections. With the quickly approaching election, I am taking action to ensure that the county’s election office can provide great elections for Mesa voters,” said Griswold in a statement. “As Secretary of State, I will continue to provide the support and oversight needed to ensure the integrity of Colorado’s elections.”

The Secretary of State’s Office said that the lawsuit is necessary because although Griswold can require supervision of a county clerk’s conduct, “it cannot remove a sitting county clerk from acting as the Designated Election Official.”

(credit: CBS)

A probe of the county’s elections office continues. Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein is currently conducting a criminal investigation, and the FBI will be involved in the “forensic review and analysis of county voting systems.”

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Meantime, Mesa County is going to replace all Dominion voting equipment. Dominion will replace the equipment at no extra cost, and for the next 8 years the county will pay $96,000 a year to manage the machines.

Jennifer McRae