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Rep. Dave Williams, left, and Rep. Ron Hanks made election fraud claims during a July 17 town hall. 

Tina Peters, the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder currently under investigation by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office for a breach of election security protocol, and Colorado Rep. Ron Hanks (R-HD60) made an appearance at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s Cyber Symposium in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Tuesday.

The symposium is a three-day event meant to expose evidence of election fraud, a claim that has been widely debunked. Lindell claims to have assembled a team of cybersecurity experts to expose what Lindell called a “cyberattack by China” on the 2020 United States presidential election.

Peters was joined on the Cyber Symposium stage by Sherronna Bishop, a former campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CD3), and Sean Smith, an election fraud activist. “Colorado is not lawless,” said Bishop, introducing Peters. “We the people have found one elected official who’s willing to stand up to the state and do what the people are asking, and that is to protect our vote. Our clerk of Mesa County is here with us today because she took that on and took it serious. She was not a politician, she was a business owner, and her job was to defend our vote. That’s why she’s here tonight.”

On Aug. 9 the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office published a news release regarding a potential breach of election security protocol. “Several items were published online that constituted a breach in the security protocols for Mesa County voting system components,” read the release. “The posted images depict the BIOS passwords specific to the individual hardware stations of Mesa County’s voting system. The public disclosure of the BIOS passwords for one or more components of Mesa County’s voting system alone constitutes a serious breach of voting system security protocols, as well as a violation of Election Rule 20.6.1. This breach in security protocol has not created an imminent direct security risk to Colorado’s elections, and did not occur during an election.”

The items posted online were videos of someone accessing the BIOS of election equipment. Those videos were posted on Aug. 2 to the Telegram channel of Ron Watkins, also known as ‘CodeMonkeyZ.’ Watkins was the subject of Q: Into the Storm, an HBO documentary series about the Qanon movement that strongly suggested Watkins was behind the Q posts.

Peters claimed she was targeted by Secretary of State Jena Griswold. “She has come into my office several times already in the last two years since I’ve been the elected official because I am a Republican, a conservative and she’s not,” said Peters. “She weaponizes her position to attack people that disagree with her.”

Peters was the subject of a 2020 recall effort due to her overlooking 574 ballots in a drop-box outside the clerk’s office front door for months following the 2019 general election. In an Aug. 2020 article, the Colorado Sun noted that additional concerns leading to the recall included allegations of “Peters remodeling her home without obtaining needed building permits; registering a vehicle at an address other than her own to avoid taxes; using her county purchasing card to buy alcohol; filing false police reports targeting recall backers; and releasing personal information about past and present employees.”

Peters told the Cyber Symposium audience about the search warrant that was executed at her office on Aug. 10. “Just yesterday I got an order from the Secretary of State that she was going to invade my elections department today,” she said. “Guess what? When I was on a plane to come see you kind folks, and to talk to you out there, guess what they did? They provided a search warrant and raided my office. We don’t know what they were doing in there. I don’t know what they did, but I don’t trust them.”

Peters also discussed the allegations against her. “I’ve been accused of passing down or allowing someone to expose our passwords at our elections office,” she said. “These just happen to be passwords that only the Secretary of State has. As a matter of fact, when they were in doing this ‘trusted build’ in my office, they told me I’m not allowed to have those passwords, that only they are. I question that because we have passwords to get into our system. Why do they have passwords I can’t have to get into the backdoor of my system. Why is that?”

In response to Peters' appearance at Lindell's symposium, Griswold said in an emailed statement, "It’s unfortunate that Tina Peters is spreading misinformation about Colorado elections. The fact is, Colorado’s elections are some of the most secure in the country. We lead the way on election security and access, and I am proud of the work that election workers across the state do each year to ensure Coloradan voters’ voices are heard. There are layers of security and redundancies built in to our security protocols, so that security risks and bad actors can be identified.”

Griswold also released a statement on Aug. 10: “Yesterday I ordered the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder to comply with inspection of election equipment, video footage, and other documents in the county,” she said in a news release. “The Clerk’s Office must prove that chain of custody remains intact and that there has been no unauthorized access to voting equipment in the county. Failure to do so will result in decertification of the specific voting equipment in Mesa. Colorado has the best election system in the nation, with built in security redundancies. As Secretary of State, my number one priority is to ensure all election security protocols are followed and to safeguard Coloradans’ right to vote.”

The news release also explained the search warrant executed at Peters’ office. “Today civil servants with the Secretary of State’s Office, accompanied at all times by officials from Mesa County, began to inspect voting equipment and other relevant documents,” read the release. “During their inspection, the Secretary’s staff were in contact with the District Attorney and his representatives, who were conducting their own separate, independent investigation. The Secretary directs any inquiries concerning the District Attorney’s investigation to that office. Pending the outcome of the Secretary’s preliminary investigation, the Secretary of State’s office will determine if it is necessary to take the further action of prohibiting the use of or decertifying specific voting systems equipment in Mesa County. This breach in security protocol has not created an imminent direct security risk to Colorado’s elections, and did not occur during an election.”

Rep. Hanks, who recently attended Colorado Rep. Dave Williams’ (R-HD15) town hall on election fraud in Colorado Springs, was brought on stage to weigh in on Colorado elections. “I have put out a lot of conversation and documents to our Secretary of State, Jena Griswold,” he said. “I will tell you, she has blamed us for the threats of violence. I told her to reorient her finger and point it directly back at herself. I will tell you what, the media, which I call ‘lying media’ and ‘yellow journalism’ is causing the division and the hatred and the threats here. We have to get through the membrane of this evil and knock it back.”

Attacks on the media were a hallmark of the first day of Lindell’s symposium. He frequently interrupted Peters and Bishop to go on tangential diatribes about the “snake news media.” Throughout the day, Lindell would read, verbatim, news coverage of the symposium while calling out individual journalists by name. 

News Reporter

Heidi Beedle is a former soldier, educator, activist, and animal welfare worker. She received a Bachelor’s in English from UCCS. She has worked as a freelance writer covering LGBTQ issues, nuclear disasters, cattle mutilations, and social movements.

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