Mesa County Clerk Faulted for Voting Equipment Passwords Leak

Autumn Lloyd, Editor


Mesa County has a turbulent track record with respect to elections. The February 2020 discovery of 600 uncounted ballots from the 2019 election had only just been forgotten when a new election scandal hit the Western Slope in recent weeks. August reporting by the Colorado Sun revealed that election systems passwords for Mesa County’s voting equipment were posted on a right-wing blog associated with the conspiracy theory Qanon, likely as a result of a security breach “during software updates to voting equipment in Mesa County on May 25, 2021.” Officials from Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s office began an investigation in early August into potential misconduct. 

Matt Crane of The Colorado County Clerks Association told the Colorado Sun that “We take any credible information that questions the integrity of the conduct of our elections seriously….We offer our full support to this inquiry and hope that a thorough investigation will provide clear answers to the concerns raised by the Secretary of State’s Office.” 

On August 10th Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters was accused by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold of “allow[ing] this breach in election security,” and expressed her confidence that the fault was within Mesa County, telling the Sun that “[W]e do not believe it was someone in my office…And we have many reasons behind that.” 

State officials are confident that this breach was limited to Mesa County and that it did not affect any past or upcoming elections, as it did not occur while elections were in progress.  

Griswold’s office told the Sun that they believe the passwords were photographed during a “trusted build” update of the Dominion Voting Systems that occurred in late May. Representatives from each county are allowed to observe the update, and Peters was responsible for conducting background checks on Mesa County representatives.

The Sun reports that Peters said she was “being persecuted” from Sioux Falls, South Dakota where she was attending a cyber symposium hosted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. The symposium promoted false claims of the existence of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Peters also claims that “[The election system passwords] just happen to be passwords that only the secretary of state has,” and that she was “not allowed to have those passwords.”

The Colorado Sun also reports that the Mesa County district attorney Dan Rubinstein has opened a criminal investigation into this leak that is independent of the Secretary of State’s, but Rubenstein declined to share details of the ongoing investigation.

Griswold’s investigation could lead to the desertification of all of Mesa County’s election equipment, which would leave the county scrambling to procure new equipment prior to local elections on November 2nd, 2021.