Embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters (R) has not complied with several Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) requests seeking a copy of a spreadsheet her office created containing the names of the 574+ disenfranchised voters whose ballots her office failed count in the November, 2019 general election.
The ballots were left in a collection box after the election and were not retrieved or counted. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold called the oversight a “serious dereliction of duty.”
Clerk Peters ordered the creation of the list.
Several former Clerk’s office employees report that Ms. Peters asked Sandra Brown, another Clerk’s Office employee, to create a spreadsheet of the names of all the voters whose ballots weren’t counted so Ms. Peters could send them each a written apology.
Internal emails from the County Clerk’s office support claims that the list in fact exists. In the emails, Peters asks other employees not to distract Ms. Brown from the task of creating the list, so she could finish it quickly.
A March 6, 2020 email from Tina Peters to Patti Inscho, Elections Director, and several others, says:
“Sandye was asked to do the 574 ballots from the [November 5, 2019] Coordinated [election] on Saturday because I want to send out a letter of apology in a timely manner and she is very quick with processes.”
“I would like to get the spreadsheet mail merge done with the 574 voters before we let that information out.”
Patti Inscho sent a complaint dated June 29, 2020 to the Secretary of State’s Office saying she personally witnessed the creation of the list of disenfranchised voters’ names that Ms. Peters has failed to turn over.
But the County denies the list exists.
County Attorney John Rhoads has responded to all CORA requests for the list by saying that the “County has no documents responsive to your request.”
Possible scenarios based on his response include that 1) the document exists and Tina Peters is stonewalling it, or 2) Ms. Peters possessed the list and has destroyed it.
Both are crimes.
Colorado Revised Statutes C.R.S. 1‐1‐104(11), says the list qualifies as an Election Record and as such should have been retained:
(11) “Election records” includes 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.
If the list of the names has been destroyed, then Clerk Peters has committed crime.
If the list exists and Ms. Peters is stonewalling its release, it is a misdemeanor with a $100 fine and up to 90 days in jail.
Whichever circumstance is the case, Ms. Peters is likely not just evading the law, but further eroding the credibility of her office, which already has virtually no credibility left.