(The Center Square) – A Mesa County judge granted a request on Tuesday to remove embattled Clerk Tina Peters as the county’s designated election official (DEO) during the 2022 election.
The court also granted Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s request to install Brandi Bantz as the DEO for the county. Bantz has served as a Colorado election official for more than two decades, including four years as the senior elections specialist in El Paso County.
“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 effort to remove Peters as the DEO began in August last year after allegations surfaced that a copy of Mesa County’s election hard drive was posted on social media. The secretary of state’s office also asked for former Secretary Wayne Williams to be appointed at Mesa County’s new DEO.
The DEO is the individual who oversees the election process at the local or municipal level. Under state law, neither the secretary of state nor county officials can remove a DEO from their post, which prompted Griswold to file the lawsuit.
Peters has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing in the case. But a Mesa County grand jury in March indicted Peters on multiple charges ranging from identity theft and criminal impersonation to failing to obey the secretary of state.
The Griswold’s office described Peters’ actions after the 2020 election as “one of the nation’s first insider threats where an election official, risked the integrity of the election system in an effort to prove unfounded conspiracy theories.”
“I am confident Mesa voters will have great elections this year,” Griswold added. “As Secretary of State, I will continue to provide the support and oversight needed to ensure the integrity of Colorado’s elections.”