Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters may soon be back in charge of her Elections Division, albeit her authority somewhat handcuffed, but should she be allowed to?

According to reporting by The Daily Sentinel’s Charles Ashby, Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s office is asking Peters to sign a “certificate of attestation” agreement that would open the door to her overseeing the county’s elections again under a strict set of criteria.

That criteria includes such things as disallowing her unfettered access to secure areas of her elections office, requiring her to be accompanied by whomever the secretary designates at all times.

It bars Peters from making any changes in the Elections Division, including disrupting the chain-of-custody of election equipment, manipulating its software, or giving a third person access to election machines without a background check and in the presence of the yet-to-be named election supervisor.

Additionally, Peters would have to file daily and weekly written reports on anything she does within the division.

So, Peters will be allowed to do parts of the job, under strict supervision with regular reporting and bars her from making any changes. This makes sense from the perspective of securing the election from her meddling, but if she needs such strict rules to be trusted, why is the state allowing her to do it at all?

Any other employee who is untrustworthy to do a significant aspect of their job would just be fired. Peters isn’t a normal employee, though. She’s elected, but why do we elect the clerk in the first place?

A clerk isn’t a representative, it’s a job — literally, a clerical position. They run the Division of Motor Vehicles, record marriage licenses and run elections. You want a clerk with experience running an office, not a political operative.

There are a handful of these elected positions in the county that make little sense. Why do we elect a coroner or an assessor? These are professions.

We’ve been fortunate as a county that we’ve mostly had professional people run and fill these positions, but that might not always be the case.

The Peters’ example is divisive in this county, but you can look around the state and find examples of clerks, both Republicans and Democrats, abusing their position. Being accountable to voters in a way makes these positions less accountable on the job. If they were harassing employees or creating a hostile work environment, the only way to remove them is an expensive recall or waiting for the next election.

If these were hired professionals, they could be hired from a wider pool of applicants, it would require fewer costly elections and they would be accountable for their job performance to our elected representatives on the Board of County Commissioners. Could we do that?

Under the Colorado Constitution, as it stands, we could change how these positions are filled if we became a home rule county. But, that process opens a whole can of worms unrelated to these elected positions.

A better solution in our estimation is for the legislature to refer a constitutional amendment to voters allowing the voters in each county to decide if they want to continue to elect the clerk or the coroner, or to change to hiring for these positions. We’d sure like the option.