We’ve been holding our peace over the past few days as the “defense” of embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters against allegations that she allowed unauthorized access and the subsequent public leaking of proprietary election system data has taken shape. Represented by former Secretary of State and discredited election conspiracy theorist in his own right Scott “Honey Badger” Gessler, Peters is arguing she should not be stripped of her election supervisory duties owing to Peters’ supposedly good intentions. The Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports:
Last week, Peters — who had been out of the state for more than a month and has become popular among 2020 election conspiracy theorists — responded to the lawsuit by providing to commissioners and the court a report that alleges wrongdoing by the secretary of state’s office and says that a state upgrade wiped out election records that elections officials are required to keep…
Peters’ attorney, former Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler, acknowledged in a Sept. 17 legal filing that there was an “unauthorized release of information on one or more publicly available web sites,” [Pols emphasis] but said the actions by Griswold and the county commissioners to remove Peters and Knisley were “wholly disproportionate and directly violate Colorado law.”
Gessler also wrote that Peters “suspected that the Secretary’s trusted build process (annual system update) wiped out election records that she is required to preserve under Colorado law.” So Peters had a consultant copy the hard drive of the county’s Dominion Voting Systems equipment and commissioned the report “which appears to validate (Peters’) suspicions,” Gessler wrote.
In her response filing yesterday, Secretary of State Jena Griswold effectively shredded these convoluted misinformed arguments, explaining how they betray basically total ignorance of how these systems work. CBS4’s Jennifer McRae:
The brief also states that “there is nothing further from the truth” in regards to Peters’ false claims about the destruction of election records during the routine trusted build. Election records are required to be maintained by county clerks for up to 25 months.
Griswold cited the Colorado Election Code and referenced that election records “include items such as: accounting forms, certificates of registration, pollbooks, certificates of election, signature cards, all affidavits, voter applications, other voter lists and records, mail ballot return envelopes, voted ballots, unused ballots, spoiled ballots, and replacement ballots. None of these items were named in the “report” produced by Peters.”
“The Secretary would have no objection to a county backing up its log files for its voting systems—in fact, Larimer County requested to backup their log files prior to a trusted build, and the Department of State helped Larimer County perform such a backup,” the brief states. “Instead, Peters made copies of the entire hard drive, exposing the security of the entire election system when those copies were posted on the Internet.” [Pols emphasis]
Again, the idea that the proper procedure for Clerk Peters to follow if she suspected some kind of illegal act was to commit another crime is so ridiculous it’s embarrassing to anyone making the argument. Helping uncredentialed unqualified conspiracy theorists steal secure data and then going on the lam for a month instead of cooperating with the investigation is not how legitimate whistleblowers call out problems. The so-called “forensic examination” conducted on Peters’ behalf doesn’t appear to take into account what data is legally required to be preserved, and they don’t know enough about the data they were improperly allowed to access to assess the significance (if any) of files being updated or deleted in a system update. And at no point are they able to demonstrate even hypothetically how any of this adds up to changing the results of an election.
In short, Peters’ response is an epic pile of hopelessly uninformed nonsense–just like Gessler’s garbage legal brief for Donald Trump suggesting the presidential election in Nevada was stolen, and just like Gessler’s fruitless failed quest to uncover “tens of thousands of illegal voters” that landed his political career on the rocks back in 2014. Even the all-GOP Mesa County commissioners acknowledged that the Secretary of State has the power to relieve Clerk Peters of her election responsibilities. It’s a completely meritless defense, and we’re awaiting only the judge’s ruling saying so.
And then at some point after that, hopefully soon, criminal charges.