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Mesa Co. clerk faces replacement; voting equipment hard drives copied, secretary of state says

Secretary Griswold "now determining who to appoint to supervise Mesa County elections.”
mesa county elections clerk and recorder.png
Posted at 5:07 PM, Aug 16, 2021

DENVER – Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and two other people went into a secure room in which Mesa County’s voting equipment is kept two days before an upgrade and copied hard drive images of election management software, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said Monday.

Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s office said the investigation is ongoing into how special passwords for the county’s voting systems and other information ended up online and being discussed by Peters and others at Mike Lindell’s South Dakota symposium in which they attempted unsuccessfully to show how prevalent and easy voter fraud was to commit.

Griswold’s office confirmed two hard drive images were taken from voting systems – at least one of which is believed to have been taken on the evening of May 23 – two days before the “trusted build” attended by Dominion Voting Systems employees, staff with the secretary of state’s office, Peters, and Gerald Wood, a man who was not authorized to attend the yearly upgrade of the software.

“The Colorado Department of State has been alerted to and confirmed the release of two hard drive images from Mesa County election servers by election conspiracy theorists,” the secretary of state’s office said in a news release. “While the investigation is ongoing, it appears these hard drive images contain copies of the election management software that runs voting system equipment in Mesa County.

The secretary of state’s office said Monday the ongoing investigation has confirmed that Peters, Wood and another Mesa County Clerk and Recorder employee all accessed the secure room the evening of May 23, when at least one of the hard drive images was copied.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel again broke the latest news Monday just as Griswold’s office sent out a news release on the matter.

The secretary of state’s office had said previously that evidence pointed to Peters directing staff to turn off video surveillance equipment before the May 25 upgrades — video cameras that were not turned back on until August.

Griswold’s office told the director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of those latest updates, and the agency confirmed “it does not view this breach as a significant heightening of the election risk landscape at this point.”

Griswold’s office said as the chief elections officer for Colorado, she “is now determining who to appoint to supervise Mesa County elections.”

Last week, Griswold prohibited the compromised election equipment – 41 total pieces – from being used further in Mesa County elections. The county will be responsible for deciding whether to replace them and will have to foot the cost. The secretary of state’s office is assisting in this process.

The district attorney’s office also initiated a separate criminal investigation into the clerk and recorder’s office.

On Tuesday, the FBI confirmed it was assisting the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office in its investigation of the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office to determine if any federal crimes were committed.

Griswold said last week that Peters “allowed a security breach, and by all evidence at this point, assisted it.” Peters has not responded to multiple requests for comment since the investigation got underway.

This is a developing news story and will be updated.