Mesa mess needs cleaning up

Column by Greg Romberg
Posted 9/8/21

With Colorado’s well-deserved reputation as a beacon of election integrity, who would have thought the actions of one county clerk could throw us into the middle of the national debate about voting …

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Mesa mess needs cleaning up

Posted

With Colorado’s well-deserved reputation as a beacon of election integrity, who would have thought the actions of one county clerk could throw us into the middle of the national debate about voting systems?

And yet the actions of Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters has done just that. Peters invited an election denier to witness otherwise private election testing in May, which led to election equipment passwords being posted online in August. After the breach was made public, Peters played the victim at an appearance with Mike Lindell, the pillow maker who has been an active participant in the “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Peters is clearly an outlier among Colorado Republicans in questioning the integrity of our elections. Republicans hold the majority of clerks’ offices in Colorado (38 out of 64 counties), and no other clerk has made similar claims. Other Republican elected officials in Mesa County have acknowledged the seriousness of Peters’ actions and are working to correct them.

Peters’ predecessor Sheila Reiner, with assistance from another former clerk, Janice Rich, have been designated by the secretary of state to oversee the county’s elections. Reiner is now Mesa County’s treasurer and Rich is a state representative. Both are Republicans.

Additionally, the Mesa County commissioners recently voted to replace the machines that were compromised and continue use of the elections system through 2029. All three members of the board are Republicans and include long time Congressman Scott McInnis and Janet Rowland, who was the 2006 Republican lieutenant governor nominee. A criminal investigation into Peters’ actions has been opened by Mesa County District Attorney Daniel Rubinstein, another Republican.

But as Republican elected officials in Mesa County and Colorado have rallied to defend Colorado’s election system and to fix the problems her actions created, Peters doubled down. She’s suggested that the 2020 elections (that we conducted under her watch) were flawed because Republicans in her county didn’t win by big enough margins. She has left the state and suggested that she has and will be targeted for criminal activities by her opponents. She has used Lindell’s media network to describe herself as a victim whose illegal disclosure of the election system’s intricacies was really an effort in transparency.

Peters’ actions have allowed believers of the big lie to claim that even Colorado’s election results were questionable. Her actions led to a raucous public hearing before the Mesa County commissioners in which some people called for the county to stop using its voting system despite the fact that the only questions about its reliability were those caused by Peters’ actions.

Peters has shown that she is unfit to serve as Mesa County’s clerk and recorder. She should, but will not, resign. She should be removed from office, either as a result of the criminal investigations that are now taking place or by a recall by her county’s voters.

Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie.

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