Seated onstage at the most-hyped election conspiracy event of the year, the clerk of Mesa County, Colorado, Tina Peters, described herself as a crusader for election security.
“I’ve looked at it objectively,” Peters said of supposed issues in election data during her speech at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s “Cyber Symposium” this month. “There’s some discrepancies there that I cannot deny, and I tell people, ‘I cannot unsee some of these things.’ If I’m going to be honest with the people of Mesa County and Colorado and all of you, I cannot unsee some of these things.”
But at home in Mesa County, some current and former officials have a different recollection of Peters’ tenure overseeing elections.
During Peters’ first year as clerk, in 2019, her office was blamed for leaving more than 570 uncounted ballots in a box, long past an election. Less than a year later, one of her office’s drop boxes leaked ballots, sending some floating in the summer breeze. Now Peters has gone underground, reportedly hiding in a safe house provided by Lindell, after she allegedly participated in a breach of Mesa County voting machine data this year. That data soon wound up on conspiracy websites, making Peters a folk hero among the MAGA set and the subject of an FBI investigation.
Peters (who did not return requests for comment) took office in 2019, after her predecessor, Sheila Reiner, reached her term limit. What followed was an unusually bombastic tenure in a typically low-drama role.
While overseeing the November 2019 general election, Peters’ office forgot to count 574 ballots, instead leaving them unattended in a drop box outside her office for months. That slip-up coincided with a rush of departures from Peters’ office. In December 2019, nearly 20 of Peters’ 32-person staff had departed, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported at the time. More staff quit days after the missing ballots were discovered, in late February 2020, bringing the departure count over two dozen.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office told Peters to get her act together.
“The Secretary of State’s Office appointed someone to be in the [clerk’s] office to help with the election,” Amanda Polson, who served as elections director under Reiner, told The Daily Beast.
Patti Inscho, a Democrat and an experienced former Mesa County Clerk employee, was hired to help Peters with elections. But just two months into Inscho’s role, Peters fired her, accusing her of not doing assigned work—an allegation Inscho firmly denied. The rift turned ugly, with a Peters staffer filing a criminal complaint against Inscho for allegedly not working during a pandemic, the Colorado Sun previously reported. Police dismissed the report.
“Tina didn’t want to fight facts,” Inscho told The Daily Beast. “She wanted to damage people. She did and said a lot of things about me that are untrue. It hurt my reputation, and it’s hard to fight back against.”
Polson, who had been hopeful about Inscho’s hiring, saw her termination as a bad omen.
“Essentially, that person [Inscho] got shut out,” Polson said. “Nothing had improved in the office. She was still, we thought, not handling the ballot issue correctly. There are some lines you can’t cross in an election administration. That is one of them: not counting ballots that should be counted.”
In May 2020, Polson formally began an effort to recall Peters. The campaign took issue with Peters’ handling of the lost ballots, as well as her staff turnover, a series of controversial business expenses (including more than $3,000 in food), and her decision not to oversee a pair of town-level elections. (The towns were forced to oversee their own elections, costing them two to three times the typical cost of a county-run vote.)
Soon the recall campaign had another data point: a ballot drop-off box, installed by Peters’ office for the 2020 primary election, appeared defective, sending completed ballots blowing across a parking lot. Peters claimed the leak was staged and blamed a local couple who’d reported the issue. The couple denied the allegation in an interview with the Daily Sentinel, where a reporter also noted ongoing issues with ballots becoming lodged in the drop box.
Polson was joined in her signature-gathering campaign by Inscho and even, on occasion, Peters’ predecessor Sheila Reiner. “I agreed with the group that things weren’t being done properly,” Reiner told The Daily Beast. “I didn’t believe that Tina was doing a good job.”
She said she collected some signatures for the recall, but was not one of its organizers. Still, her involvement cost her. Reiner said she was antagonized by Peters loyalists who objected to the recall.
“I'm a Republican,” she said. “There are some other Republicans that felt like that I wasn't being loyal to the brand, let’s put it that way.”
Remember, this is someone who is a GOP hero because she actually committed election fraud, with the justification that it was "correcting" election fraud by the Democrats that didn't actually exist.
I expect a lot more of this in 2022 and especially 2024, especially since it's clear that Democrats aren't going to kill the filibuster to pass federal voting rights legislation, and no Republican will ever vote for it.
They've been screaming about election fraud for over a year now -- before even the 2020 election - so they have cover to steal the next several ones.