What began as an investigation into how election equipment passwords from a rural Colorado county got posted on a right wing blog has turned into a feud between the state’s Democratic secretary of state and the county’s conservative clerk.
The elections chief for the northwestern county that includes the city of Grand Junction, Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, escalated the dispute this week with an appearance at an event hosted by one the biggest backers of baseless election fraud conspiracies promoted by Trump supporters, My Pillow company CEO Mike Lindell.
Peters slammed the investigation of her office, claiming that Griswold is attempting a takeover of Mesa County’s elections in one of Colorado’s last Republican strongholds.
Colorado’s Democratic Secretary of State Jenna Griswold then took her turn in the war-of-words Thursday at a news conference, when she said that Mesa County would have to replace its voting equipment and that Peters was responsible for the security breach.
Griswold said evidence showed that Peters’ office directed staff to turn off video surveillance of its voting equipment before a May 25 software update and that the video was not turned back on until August. No elections were held during that period, but officials are required by state law to maintain video surveillance to ensure no one tampers with the equipment.
Griswold said Peters also allowed a non-employee into the office during the software update “after misleading my office on the person’s employment status,” she added.
Griswold’s office identified the man, but refused to say anything more about who he is or why he was there. The Associated Press isn’t naming him until more information becomes available about him. He has not been charged with a crime.