Election denier Tina Peters loses Colorado primary for top poll official

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: McKenzie Lange/AP</span>
Photograph: McKenzie Lange/AP

Tina Peters, a Colorado county clerk who is facing criminal charges for tampering with election equipment, lost the Republican nomination to be the state’s top election official on Tuesday. She was defeated by Pam Anderson, a former county clerk.

The race was among several closely watched contests this year in which Republicans who denied the election results are seeking key roles with oversight of elections.

In March, a grand jury indicted Peters and a deputy in her office after they allegedly helped an unauthorized person impersonate a county employee and access and copy information from the county’s voting equipment. Peters and a deputy allegedly turned off security cameras in a sensitive area, gave an IT consultant’s security badge to Conan Hayes, a former pro surfer who has spread disinformation about the 2020 election, and allowed him to image Dominion software.

Shortly after the incident, passwords linked to the county’s voting equipment appeared on Gateway Pundit, a far-right website that has pushed election conspiracy claims. Colorado secretary of state Jena Griswold decertified the county’s election equipment and obtained a court order blocking her from overseeing elections in 2021 and 2022. The FBI is also investigating Peters.

Nick Penniman, the CEO of Issue One, a government watchdog group said in a statement: “Based on her record and her rhetoric, Tina Peters is unfit to oversee elections. To this day, Tina Peters continues to peddle lies and disinformation about the integrity of our elections. People who do not believe in free and fair elections are unfit for elected office in the United States – especially for the position of secretary of state.”

Peters has said she wanted to image the equipment to preserve evidence of fraud and has produced debunked reports claiming irregularities. In 2020, Peters also signed off on a bipartisan audit of a sample of random ballots, required by Colorado law, that affirmed the county’s presidential election results were accurate. She nonetheless has continued to say the election was stolen.

“This is a personal opinion based on the evidence that I have seen and gone through and based on what I know from our reports. I do believe there may have been enough fraud that it turned the election,” she told the Colorado Sun earlier this month.

Peters is closely linked to two of the most prominent funders of the movement to spread election misinformation: Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO, and Patrick Byrne, the founder of Overstock.com. Lindell has given at least $200,000 to support Peters’ legal defense, according to the New York Times, and provided a “safe house” for Peters outside of Colorado last year. Byrne, whom the Times reported received a FaceTime from Hayes while he was imaging the county’s voting equipment, has donated to a PAC that attacked Peters’ opponent.

Colorado conducts its elections primarily by mail and automatically sends a ballot to registered voters. It is seen as state that has some of the best run elections in the US – it is currently ranked ninth among all states for election administration by the non-partisan MIT election index. Peters has said she would end all mail-in voting in Colorado.

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