Judge Bars Colorado Clerk From Overseeing Upcoming Elections

A Colorado clerk was barred in a new ruling from overseeing upcoming elections.

Tina Peters, a Republican who is Mesa County’s chief election official, has repeatedly failed to follow orders from Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, according to the ruling.

That includes not signing an order stipulating that Peters could oversee the upcoming elections, but only if she agreed to oversight from Griswold’s deputies.

Additionally, bond conditions imposed on both Peters and Belinda Knisley, the county’s deputy clerk, after they were charged with misconduct in March, mean they’re unable to perform their duties.

“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,” Mesa County District Judge Valerie Robison ruled.

Brandi Bantz, the director of elections for the county, will be in charge of the county’s elections until the end of the 2022 election cycle.

Peters did not respond to a request for comment.

“The court’s decision today bars Peters from further threatening the integrity of Mesa’s elections and ensures Mesa County residents have the secure and accessible elections they deserve,” Griswold said in a statement.

The secretary of state sued in January to prevent Peters from overseeing the upcoming elections.

Griswold tried getting Peters to agree to a number of conditions in order to remain as the county’s election overseer but Peters did not agree, according to court documents.

Neither the Colorado secretary of state nor a county is authorized under state law to remove a county clerk as the county’s designated election officer, so Griswold sought action from the court.

Peters was previously barred from overseeing elections in 2021 after Robison found she violated election rules by letting a third party into a secured area with election equipment and lying about the person being a county employee afterward.

Passwords were photographed and posted on social media after the process, which was described as a “trusted build.”

Knisley helped by disabling cameras nearby and violated her suspension by returning to the office after being suspended.

Both were charged in March with conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation and other charges.

Peters, who is running against Griswold in the upcoming elections, said in a statement at the time that she was asked for $500,000 by prosecutors to avoid charges and claimed she was being charged because prosecutors wanted to punish her for her political views.

Peters has alleged that there was election fraud in the 2020 election in her County, but an investigation of each of her allegations showed not even one fraudulent vote took place, the county’s Board of County Commissioners said.

Zachary Stieber

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Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.

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