Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein won't be filing charges or going forward with any legal action based on allegations of election fraud made in the latest report commissioned by Clerk Tina Peters that purports to show proof that votes could have been altered in the 2020 general election.
After district attorney investigator Michael Struwe looked into the report, Rubinstein concluded that its ultimate findings, that Dominion Voting System election equipment used by the county either had software remotely installed that could alter vote tabulations or that occurred from an intentionally installed program remotely, wasn't what created errant databases in the system identified in the so-called third report, Rubinstein told Mesa County commissioners today.
Rubinstein said the third report released by Peters and others who believe the 2020 election was fraudulent made an assumption that errant databases wasn't created because of human error.
But video recordings obtained by investigators at the exact times those files were created showed now fired Election Manger Sandra Brown attempting to "troubleshoot" a problem on an election machine during early voting during the 2020 election and again during the April 2021 city election, inadvertently creating the alleged error in ballot tabulation.
The district attorney said Brown used a "nuclear option" to correct problems with election computers by restarting tabulations, something that isn't supposed to be done during active vote counting.
Investigators told Rubinstein they believe that incident is what actually created the file, and not some assumed intentional attempt to place ballot-counting altering software into the computer system as the report claims, according to information obtained by The Daily Sentinel through a Colorado Open Records Act request.
"Report three (from Peters) claims that criminal acts actually occurred," Rubinstein told commissioners. "I did launch a criminal investigation. The entire file will ultimately become public record. Anybody who knows me knows I investigate with an open mind."
Peters' so-called report is the latest to be debunked that the embattled clerk and others believe prove election fraud. The first one claimed that 29,000 election files were destroyed during a routine upgrade of computer software in May 2021, while the second report tried to show that election equipment could be accessed remotely.
Election officials have long since debunked those reports, saying it isn't unusual for computer files to be deleted or replaced in software upgrades, but it didn't impact election records, which had been backed up prior to the upgrade, known as a "trusted build."
They also have repeatedly said that while remote access software may have been part of the election system, no hardware was in place that actually would allow for that kind of access.
The reports all were based on images that Peters and others created before and after that trusted build, which was done at a time when Peters ordered security cameras to be turned off while she and others accessed secure election areas late on a Sunday night.
As a result of that alleged security breach, Peters and Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley are facing a 13-count criminal indictment from a Mesa County grand jury on alleged tampering with election equipment and official misconduct.
Peters also faces related contempt of court charges and misdemeanor obstruction charges, while Knisley also faces criminal burglary and cybercrime charges.
Brown was fired from the clerk's office late last year.
Peters, Brown and one of the report's authors all "refused" to speak to investigators about their claims, Rubinstein and Struwe said, adding that none of the election workers during the 2020 election nor the April 2021 city election spoke to anyone who wrote Peters' report.
Commissioner Cody Davis, who is chairman of the board, said at the beginning of today's public hearing that he would not allow any public comment on Rubinstein's conclusions.
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