By Jennifer McRae

MESA COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold has filed an opening brief in a lawsuit to remove Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters as the Designated Election Official. Griswold outlined in the brief how Peters disregarded rules and compromised the security of Mesa County’s voting system.

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters

Tina Peters (credit: CBS)

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The brief states that:
• Clerk Peters and Deputy Clerk Knisley breached their duties in connection with the May 25, 2021 trusted build.
• Clerk Peters is absent and is unable to perform her duties.
• Deputy Clerk Knisley is also absent and unable to perform her duties.
• Peters’ claim of destruction of election records is false and without merit.

The brief also states that “there is nothing further from the truth” in regards to Peters’ false claims about the destruction of election records during the routine trusted build. Election records are required to be maintained by county clerks for up to 25 months.

Griswold cited the Colorado Election Code and referenced that election records “include items such as: accounting forms, certificates of registration, pollbooks, certificates of election, signature cards, all affidavits, voter applications, other voter lists and records, mail ballot return envelopes, voted ballots, unused ballots, spoiled ballots, and replacement ballots. None of these items were named in the “report” produced by Peters.”

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(credit: CBS)

“The Secretary would have no objection to a county backing up its log files for its voting systems—in fact, Larimer County requested to backup their log files prior to a trusted build, and the Department of State helped Larimer County perform such a backup,” the brief states. “Instead, Peters made copies of the entire hard drive, exposing the security of the entire election system when those copies were posted on the Internet.”

“As a result of their own actions and choices, Respondents Peters and Knisley are absent and unable to perform their duties with respect to the 2021 coordinated election. The Court should therefore apply a substantial compliance standard to the Election Code and appoint Wayne Williams as the chief designated election official and acknowledge Sheila Reiner as the election supervisor,” the brief concludes.

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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Mesa County is replacing 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