What if local returning officers believe Trump’s big lie? – Mother Jones


Donald Trump and Tina Peters, Colorado’s Mesa County clerk and clerk.Mother-jones figure; Getty; AP

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With a wood behind her towering cross, Mesa County Clerk and recorder Tina Peters took the stage at Appleton Christian Church on September 16. The crowd got to their feet, shouted cheers and chants of “Tina! Tina! Tina! “The moment was a triumphant one return for the senior electoral officer of the western Colorado community after weeks of self-imposed hideouts.

“That’s all for you,” she called. “You are the ones who came to me and said: ‘Something is wrong, please check it out.'”

the Remarks was her first public appearance in the county in over a month. Peters, who is being investigated locally, state and federally for allegedly facilitating an election security breach, disappeared after speaking on Jan. asserting she feared for her safety.

In the Church, she complained that her search for answers to the 2020 vote had met opposition from “powerful people” who “don’t want us to look at the facts” and who are now trying to use them “just for doing” to remove my job. “The Republican-elect ended her remarks with an appeal for donations.

Peters has become a “minor celebrity” than youngest Washington Post items say, in the world of Trump fans working to uphold the big lie that he won the 2020 election. But Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Republican chairman of the state’s County Clerks ‘Association said Peters’ efforts to prove that the election was unsafe not only damaged confidence in the election, but also a serious breach in itself which enables election security protocols. As a result, Griswold has decertified 41 Mesa County’s machines that need to be replaced. Griswold, a Democrat, has filed a lawsuit to suspend Peters and her deputy from overseeing the election.

The turmoil in this district of western Colorado points to a growing problem after 2020 as local elected officials responsible for monitoring elections increasingly undermine confidence in elections, make false claims and even violate security protocols. Steve Bannon, a former Trump adviser and a leading proponent of his big lie, has encouraged Like-minded people to take on important, hyperlocal roles in election management. There are thousands of these positions across the country – from city or county officials to election approval boards – where committed conspirators could wreak havoc. At a higher level, Trump has supported under-secretary candidates for the 2022 elections in several states who support his election lies. According to a Reuters analysis, open nearly a dozen Republican candidates for these positions of chief returning officer in five battlefield states question the validity of the 2020 election. “It is incredibly dangerous to support people for office who do not accept the legitimacy of the 2020 election,” says Rick Hasen, suffrage expert and professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine, said CNN. “It suggests that they may be willing to bend or break the rules when it comes to holding elections and counting votes in the future.”

Griswold, chairman of the Democratic Union of State Secretaries, said: Mother jones that next year’s elections will give voters a crucial chance to control who votes. “I believe this insider threat will spread by 2022,” she warns. “It is very worrying to have to worry that people who sit in trustworthy offices to monitor elections may not believe in the right to vote or in democracy.”

The investigation is aimed at Peters, along with Assistant Clerk Belinda Knisley, surrounds evidence that they allowed an employee outside of the district to make a copy of Dominion voting machine software before a routine update in late May 2021 to say Peters and Knisley lied to give the person access and ordered the surveillance cameras to be turned off while they were there. Copies of the hard drive and a video that was secretly recorded during the software update anyway were then posted online by conservative electoral conspiracy theorists to support misconceptions that the 2020 elections were stolen from former President Trump through rigged voting equipment from Dominion, a the largest election provider in the country.

In August, the district commissioners rented a former Republican Secretary of State, Wayne Williams, temporarily holding elections. A lawyer represents Peters in a lawsuit in which Griswold’s ongoing attempt to deprive Peters of his duties is challenged authorized She arranged access and turned off the cameras, however argued she acted to “prevent fraud and corruption in elections”. Peters did not respond to requests for comment.

Files allegedly from the hard drive were analyzed on stage at Lindell’s “Cyber ​​Symposium,” an event at which he promised to produce evidence that Chinese hackers, in league with Dominion, stole the election. While speaking at the event, Peters denied providing the files, claiming that if they got out of her office they must have been “raided”.

Shortly after the violation was exposed, Matt Crane, a former Republican administrator and executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, told reporters that Peters committed “a sole, willful, and selfish act that undermines the conduct and integrity of the Mesa elections. puts county at risk and affects voter confidence across the state and across the country. “

Mike Beasley, a lobbyist who represents the association, said Mother jones that the trust of a community can be shaken if a clerk breaks his oath, “and from our point of view that has happened very strongly here”. Employees do a lot of jobs, he says, and the public relies on them to keep data safe.

The way to prevent such situations, he added, is through continuous transparency and outreach about how elections work and procedures – things as basic as inviting the public to volunteer as election workers.

“We just have to keep doing this,” he said. But for every person, says Beasley, “driven by their hatred of the government and their distrust, there are 20 people who don’t believe it. Facts will win the day. Our actions will win the day and hearts and minds. I’m old and a nerd, but I think so. “

There is evidence that Colorado may be home to other local election officials who are with people who deny Trump’s loss. the Colorado Times Recorder, a progressive news site, recently reported in an email dated Jan. 22, 2021 that appeared in a lawsuit filed by a Dominion employee against Trump, his attorney Sidney Powell, and Joe Oltmann, a Colorado-based election Conspirators. Long before Peter’s security protocols broke in the service of the big lie, Oltmann wrote to Powell to claim that “several county clerks” were cooperating with him in the state. He later told this Time recorder Peters wasn’t one of them – but boasted that “there is so much more to come”.

Photo credit above: illustration by Mother Jones; Getty; Chip Somodevilla / Getty; McKenzie Lange / The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel via AP

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