MCKENZIE LANGE/The Daily Sentinel

In this file photo, Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, center, reads the results from the first round of ballots for the 2020 presidential primary elections at the Mesa County election office in March.

An effort to recall Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters is underway.

As required by law, the Mesa County Board of Commissioners plan to appoint an outside person at its regular meeting Monday to oversee legal functions for a planned petition effort to recall Peters.

A few months ago, a Recall Tina Peters campaign finance page was created with the Secretary of State’s Office, and its backers have been working ever since to start the process to collect enough signatures to do that.

Part of that process is to get the commissioners to appoint someone else to oversee it because, by law, Peters can’t have any oversight over a petition drive to recall herself.

The effort is being spearheaded by Amanda Polson, who worked as elections director under former clerk and now Mesa County Treasurer Sheila Reiner, but left before Peters took office in late 2018.

“Our original plan had been to submit the petition format for approval by this point,” Polson wrote in an April email to the commissioners asking about the appointment. “Obviously that timeline was impacted by COVID, but we are still moving forward.”

On her Facebook page, Polson posted Friday that recall packets to collect signatures will be available soon, and people who want to help in that drive should email RecallClerkTina@gmail.com. A website with a similar name — RecallClerkTina.com — is not yet active.

“Did you know a petition packet only has 30 lines?” Polson posted. “If 600 people would circulate 1 packet, we’d have enough signatures!”

By law, any successful petition effort to recall a county official needs to have at least 25% of registered voters who cast ballots for that elected official. In Peters’ case, that’s 12,129. Such recall efforts, however, generally collect hundreds, if not thousands more signatures because many invariably are rejected for various reasons, such as being illegible or not including enough information about the signer.

That’s why Polson’s campaign is shooting for 18,000 signatures.

On Monday, the Mesa County Commissioners are to vote on appointing Eagle County Treasurer Teak Simonton as its designated election official. Before getting elected as treasurer in 2016, Simonton served as the Eagle County clerk and recorder from 2003 to 2016. She is a Democrat.

During her career, Simonton has overseen 21 county elections, including a recall election.

The commissioners scheduled a vote on her appointment as part of its “consent agenda,” which normally is reserved for non-controversial items.

Anyone attending Monday’s meeting can ask for that item to be moved to individual consideration.

While Peters didn’t say she planned to do that, she did say Friday that she will be at Monday’s meeting, and would make a comment about the matter at that time.

“Because I’m the one that the petition is against, as the designated election official I can’t be the one to oversee the petition, the collection of signatures and the verification process,” Peters said Friday. “But I will be there on Monday to greet her and answer any questions.”

One of Simonton’s first tasks will be to approve the wording of the petitions.

Peters has come under fire in recent months over an unusually high turnover rate since taking office. More than two dozen staff workers have come and gone in her 32-person department, including three elections division managers.

Earlier this year, when elections workers were collecting ballots for the February presidential primary race, they discovered 574 ballots that had not been picked up from last fall’s election. Those ballots were sitting for months in a drop-off box located at the Mesa County Central Services Building at 200 S. Spruce St., where Peters’ office is located.

Peters apologized for the error, but blamed volunteer elections workers for it.

She also said that had they been counted, they would not have altered the outcome of any ballot question or race. She decided not to petition a district court judge — she’s the only person who legally could — to have them counted.

The Mesa County Republican Party, which often touts the integrity of elections as a paramount issue, called the matter “trivial,” saying it had complete confidence in Peters’ ability to do her job.