Even though they’ve already answered numerous questions about the election integrity controversy surrounding Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, the Mesa County Board of Commissioners on Monday answered them again, and then asked a few of their own.
In a scathing rebuke to more criticism from county residents who continue to claim without evidence that the county’s election system is somehow broken, the three-member commission repeated what they have been saying for weeks now:
There is nothing wrong with the election equipment the county has been using for years, nor will there be with the new ones it was forced to obtain last month because Peters didn’t bother to show that the old ones hadn’t been compromised, the three Republican commissioners said.
Even Peters herself said shortly after the 2020 elections that it had gone off without a hitch, and never questioned the integrity of the Dominion voting machines she and her predecessors have been using until conspiracy theorists started making unproven accusations, Commissioner Janet Rowland said.
The county, along with the rest of the state, is and has long been using paper ballots, Commissioner Cody David added, despite conspiracy theorists disputing the use of paper ballots.
The Dominion machines that 62 of 64 Colorado counties have long used to tabulate the results of successful Republican and Democratic candidates alike, and have never failed a post-election audit of cast ballots proving their accuracy, and there have been hundreds of such audits, Commissioner Scott McInnis said.
“Mesa County, Colorado, is not fraud-central of the United States,” McInnis said. “I want you to know that the clerk never once told me prior to this, never once complained about the Dominion machines. Never once did the previous clerk complain about those machines. Never once did the previous, previous clerk complain about that.”
When this situation began last month after the Secretary of State’s Office decertified the county’s election machines because Peters and some members of her staff allegedly participated in violating security protocols, and the county was facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in replacing them, the commissioners tried to look at the only other election machines authorized to be used in Colorado — Clear Ballot.
MEETING WAS SCHEDULED
The commissioners then set up a meeting with Peters to talk about a bid she had requested and received from Clear Ballot, but the clerk was and continues to be nowhere to be found.
“We had a meeting scheduled with Tina on Aug. 16 for her to talk about this quote from Clear Ballot and she did not show, she did not call in and she did not send anyone,” Rowland said. “I think the system we have now is very secure, and arguably the best in the United States.”
Peters and her deputy, Belinda Knisley, are both the subject of local, state and federal investigations into possible criminal violations that involved revealing secure passwords and hard drives with conspiracy theorists. As a result, both also have been temporarily prohibited from conducting this fall’s elections.
Knisley also is facing felony charges related to a human resources investigation that is looking into allegations that she created a hostile work environment because of those state and FBI investigations.
She has been placed on paid administrative leave.
Rowland said supporters of Peters and Knisley who continue to ask the same questions over and over about the integrity of the system — and offering no evidence that something may be wrong — don’t seem to understand that the county has added three additional checks on ballot tabulation for the fall election.
Not only will they be counted by the newest ballot tabulation machines built, but they will be counted a second time using Clear Ballot machines. They also will be hand-counted, and all the ballots will be posted online for anyone to do their own count.
And, as always, a risk-limiting audit of ballot counts will be conducted afterwards.
“Even if Dominion was changing votes, we have paper ballots that we can hand-count afterwards,” Davis said. “I’m fearful that this movement is going to have fewer and fewer people voting. I don’t want that. I want everybody voting. Nobody in the world should feel uncomfortable about the vote this fall.”
McInnis asked why critics of the election system aren’t asking the same tough questions of the one person who can actually answer them, Peters herself.
“I want to know how it is that the cameras are shut off, after-hours access is made that includes the clerk and an unauthorized person?” McInnis asked. “Has anybody out there asked the clerk, ‘Geez, was it really your intention to have all of these machines now taken out of commission at a potential cost of several hundred thousand dollars?’
“I just hope some folks get my frustration that all of the accountability that is being demanded is from our side,” he said. “I can tell you, we didn’t leak passwords, we didn’t allow anybody unauthorized to go into that, we didn’t turn off any cameras. We’ve been fully transparent. We’ve done our part. Other people need to do theirs and sit down with that clerk and say, ‘Tell me how this happened.’ It wasn’t a ghost. It wasn’t the boogeyman.”