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Indicted Colorado county clerk and 2020 election denier loses run for secretary of state

Republican Tina Peters, who has been indicted on charges of tampering with voting machines, lost her primary for Colorado secretary of state.

By Emily Singer - June 29, 2022
Tina Peters

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump’s lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95% of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2%-28.3%.

Peters and her deputy, Belinda Knisley, were indicted on March 8. Peters was indicted on seven felony charges and three misdemeanors, including identity theft, criminal impersonation, attempting to influence a public servant, and official misconduct after she allegedly helped an unauthorized person gain access to a room that housed Mesa County’s election equipment in August 2021 and gave an unauthorized person passwords for the equipment.

Images of the voting machine data wound up being published by a Telegram social media account run by believers in the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory that a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles runs the U.S. government. The FBI said the QAnon movement is a domestic terror threat.

Peters had declared herself a candidate for Colorado secretary of state the previous month, challenging incumbent Democrat Jena Griswold, who had been investigating Peters at that point for seven months and released a statement in response to Peters’ announcement that said, “Peters compromised voting equipment to try to prove conspiracies, costing Mesa County taxpayers nearly one million dollars. She works with election deniers, spreads lies about elections, was removed from overseeing the 2021 Mesa County election, and is under criminal investigation by a grand jury.”

In response to a suit filed by Griswold, Mesa County District Judge Valerie Robison in May barred Peters from overseeing the 2022 midterm elections in the county because of the indictments, writing, “Based on the circumstances of this case … the Court determines that the Petitioners have met the burden of showing that Peters and Knisley have committed a neglect of duty and are unable to perform the duties of the Mesa County Designated Election Official.”

Peters did not accept her primary defeat.

She told supporters Tuesday night, as results showed her trailing the Anderson by double digits, “We didn’t lose, we just found evidence of more fraud. … They’re cheating and we’ll prove it once again. … It’s not over. Keep the faith.”

Peters was one of several Republican election deniers running for secretary of state positions in 2022. Not all of them have won.

In Nevada, Republicans nominated Jim Marchant, a Trump supporter who has pushed numerous baseless and antisemitic voter fraud conspiracies.

But Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, one of the 147 congressional Republicans to vote against certifying President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory in January 2021, lost a primary bid for Georgia secretary of state in May. Hice, who was endorsed by Trump, was handily defeated by incumbent Republican Brad Raffensperger, who had rebuffed efforts by Trump to steal Georgia’s Electoral College votes.

In Colorado, Peters isn’t the only election denier to have lost Tuesday night.

Republican state Rep. Ron Hanks, a Peters supporter who attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington that preceded the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, lost his primary run for Senate.

Anderson will face Griswold in November.

Griswold, who ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination, has vowed to protect voting rights in Colorado.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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