Commissioner Janet Rowland gives angry audience a dose of reality, and votes to do the right thing
The Mesa County Commissioners voted unanimously this afternoon to extend the County’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems so they could get new voting equipment for no up-front cost from Dominion. The Commissioners voted to maintain the County’s contract with the company until 2029, and agreed to make progressively higher payments to the company throughout that time. The County needed new voting equipment to replace the equipment decertified by the Colorado Secretary of State because Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters was unable to prove the equipment had been kept secure and had not been compromised.
Peters is currently on the lam, running from multiple criminal investigations. The Colorado Secretary of State has alleged that Peters intentionally compromised the security of Mesa County’s elections equipment in an effort to try to prove some crazy election conspiracy theory about Dominion’s equipment. Peters is currently in hiding, being flown around and hidden in “safe houses” around the U.S. by election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, the CEO of the My Pillow Company.
About 30-40 far right-wing Mesa County election conspiracy theorists attended today’s public hearing to comment. All of them condemned the Commissioners’ impending action to renew the Dominion contract.
Here’s what the public comments were like:
Mary Rudeker of Fruita said “I watched witnesses say they were turned away at the ballot box….Ballots were fed into ballot collection boxes at night when no one was watching.” She said “Dominion machines are accessible on the internet,” and “They’re corrupt systems.”
Sherronna Bishop, Rep. Lauren Boebert’s former campaign manager, stood up to speak but Commissioner Janet Rowland shut her down as soon as she stepped to the podium, saying “Sorry, but we’re only accepting comments from residents of Mesa County.” Bishop is registered to vote in Garfield County.
Kim Anderson quoted scripture and then told the Commissioners “It’s absurd the three of you would make a contract with Dominion. …God is watching. You’re going to be accountable. In Jesus name, do the right thing.”
Sheila Yaeger said “We’ve listened to Mike Lindell’s absolute scientific proof” of election fraud. Commissioner Scott McInnis then shut Yaeger down, saying her comment was off topic, and they were only taking comments about the county’s contract with Dominion.
Don Pettygrove stepped to the podium and said “Dominion machines are made in Venezuela specifically to corrupt elections,” and “electronic machines of any kind are an error.”
Deborah Moreland of Fruita said “There’s solid evidence of conspiracy theories,” and “It took Tina Peters to finally come forward with an open book about Dominion.”
Former Mesa County Commissioner Jim Baughman said “I was aghast last fall when Trump’s election was stolen in the middle of the night…In real time, you could see on TV the votes being switched from Trump to Biden.” Baughman added, that Dominion voting machines were made in Venezuela and communist China.
Some citizens stated their belief that the County’s voting equipment was involved in the recent fire at the e-waste recycling facility near 23 and G Roads, that occurred the night before.
Many speakers quoted extensively from the Bible and the U.S. Constitution and said they wanted a hand count of paper ballots. They seemed unaware that mail-in ballots — the system Colorado currently uses statewide — utilizes paper ballots.
Commissioners’ reactions to public comments:
Commissioner Scott McInnis said “we don’t have any option at all” about the contract. He said he was not expecting Tina to be absent, or to have the Secretary of State come in. He said he would prefer a hand count of ballots, but that takes “lots of resources.” McInnis added that “Tina could be a big help to us. We’re rudderless down there” [in the County Clerk’s office].” He added that the County is having a hard time running the Department of Motor Vehicles as well, dealing with license plates and other functions of the County Clerk’s office. McInnis added,
“Not until three days ago did Tina communicate with us and it was in Biblical terms.”
McInnis said it was apparent that some people in the audience had spoken to Tina, and he begged them for help:
“If you’re in communication with her, ask Tina to come out of hiding and come home. We’ll provide her with security. She needs to come back to work.
Commissioner Cody Davis suggested the County run its ballots through “both Dominion machines and Runbeck’s machines, just to see. We can do it.” He added, “I want to do paper ballots this fall in addition to a machine count, but there are a lot of people who don’t trust hand counts. Historically, hand counts aren’t real accurate.”
Most stunning were County Commissioner Janet Rowland’s comments as she struggled to address the avalanche of disinformation, misunderstanding and utter ignorance that the crowd had just spewed at the Commissioners for almost two hours.
Janet did far less coddling than the other commissioners, was straightforward with the crowd and tried desperately to set them straight:
Janet kept a list of things people had said during the comment period and addressed them one by one:
- “It’d be hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars to replace our machines.”
- “Our machines were not in the e-waste fire.”
- “These machines weren’t decertified because they had modems in them, but because [the] surveillance [cameras] on them were shut off and because passwords to them were shared online.”
- Rowland added, “If she [County Clerk Tina Peters] had shared this information [that Peters says says she has about voting machines being rigged] with us in June instead of at the Cyber Conference, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”
- Rowland told the crowd that “Tina Peters was voted into office with Dominion machines.”
- “People think there were no search warrants” [allowing authorities to search Tina Peters’ office and the Elections Division for evidence of the security breach.] “THERE WERE,” Rowland said. “Those are ridiculous, unfounded allegations.” She then said,
- “I voted for Tina but if a Democratic clerk had turned off the cameras, you’d demand removal of the machines. That’s the truth.”
- “We had a meeting scheduled with Tina on August 16, but she left town.”
- “Regarding the belief that Dominion machines are ‘fixed,’ those are FEELINGS. We have to work on FACTS. I asked Tina for proof [the voting machines were rigged] and GOT NONE.”
“Scott Gessler, the former Secretary of State,” is currently Tina Peters’ attorney,” Rowland said. Rowland then described the state-level committee that years ago had studied voting machines from different companies to determine which would be best to use to standardize voting throughout the state. “His [Gessler’s] voting committee narrowed the choices down to four,” she said, “and Dominion Voting Systems was the top-rated system with this committee.”
The commissioners then closed the discussion section of the meeting and voted unanimously to approve the new contract with Dominion Voting Systems.
The crowed went nuts.