Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, along with her deputies Belinda Knisley and Julie Fisher, will not be allowed to oversee the county’s 2022 election, a Colorado district judge ruled Tuesday, marking the second time Peters was removed from his post.
Judge Valerie Robison’s decision follows two days of testimony last month in a lawsuit brought by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold to block Peters, Knisley and Fisher from being the designated election official in the upcoming Mesa County primary and midterm elections.
“Today’s court ruling prohibits Peters from further threatening the integrity of Mesa’s elections and guarantees residents of Mesa County the secure and accessible elections they deserve,” Griswold said in a released statement. by his office following the decision.
“Clerk Peters’ actions compromised voting equipment and election security in Mesa County, constituting one of the nation’s first insider threats where an election official has risked the integrity of the electoral system in an attempt to prove unsubstantiated conspiracy theories,” Griswold continued, adding, “Clerk Peters later declined to assert that she would abide by Colorado election rules and laws as Mesa County DEO.
CNN has reached out to Peters for comment.
In March, Peters and Knisley were indicted on multiple felony and misdemeanor counts by a county grand jury after an investigation into an election security breach at the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s office. . Peters was also under investigation by the FBI and others for his alleged involvement in a Mesa County election system security breach last year. As part of their bond agreement, Peters and Knisley are prohibited from having contact with each other, the victims named in their felony indictments, and any employees of the county clerk’s and recorder’s office.
The criminal investigation into the clerk’s office began after Griswold, a Democrat, accused Peters and his deputies of facilitating a security breach in May last year. The breach resulted in confidential logins to voting machines and forensic images of their hard drives being posted on a QAnon-affiliated Telegram channel in early August 2021, according to previous CNN reports.
Peters, a pro-Trump Republican running for secretary of state from Colorado, has publicly claimed the investigation was partisan and politically motivated.
Beginning in April 2021, according to the indictment, prior to a reliable construction of voting machines on May 25 and 26, 2021, Peters and Knisley “conceived and executed a deceptive scheme” to influence officials, breach protocols security, exceed authorized access to voting materials and trigger the possible distribution of confidential information to unauthorized persons. A “trust construct” is “the origin of the chain of custody of any voting system software and firmware component,” according to the indictment.
Colorado’s primary election is June 28. Clerks must have primary ballots available to voters from May 27.