Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters not only bought into the Big Lie told by former President Donald Trump and his sock puppets, but took it to the next level. As a local election official charged with upholding the pillars of democracy, she undermined the votes of her constituents and potentially engaged in criminal behavior.
Peters won’t resign, so the voters of Mesa County should take it into their own hands and recall her.
While residents could wait until next November to oust her at the ballot box, there is good reason they should not. The most imminent problem is that Peters is charged with running both the primary elections and the general election. Given her blatant disregard for security rules and state law, there is little reason to believe she would not go even further to assure her own victory.
After all, what is a little light election fraud to someone who thinks an entire presidential election was stolen?
Of course, that is the bigger issue. Peters represents the undeniable outcome of continued insistence that Trump won last November. While the wild claims of Peters and other Trump conspiracy theorists have found no credible evidence of fraud in nearly a year of searching, it does little to stop counter-narrative. To the contrary, it seems to spur wilder, more tangential theories.
For example, as Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold made it clear that the leak of voting equipment passwords was both intentional on Peters’ part and set to cost the county tens of thousands of dollars, Peters presented at a symposium hosted by MyPillow CEO and eminent buffoon Mike Lindell. Lindell’s allegations are both ridiculous and easily disproven.
Just last week, the date Lindell spent months claiming would mark the reinstatement of Trump came and went with only schadenfreude snickers to greet it. Well, that and the federal court ruling that will let a $3 billion lawsuit against him for his false claims proceed.
His next bonkers manifesto may well come through Peters via Rep. Lauren Boebert’s former campaign manager. That is basically what all parties admitted to during Lindell’s symposium. Expect subpoenas from the district attorney to follow.
Given Peters’ complicity, it should be apparent that she absolutely cannot be allowed to remain in office. Every day she does is an affront to our democracy and another potential attack on our election system.
While third-party “audits” by inexperienced, disreputable organizations like the one in Maricopa County in Arizona serve as fodder for disillusioned partisans, at least they are confined to the post-election grumbling made manifest.
Peters presents an entirely worse scenario. As an elected official with election oversight in the Western Slope’s most populace county, it does not seem unimaginable that she would purposefully disenfranchise voters, change ballots or engage in other acts treasonous to our electoral system. And she would likely view herself as a “patriot” the entire time.
But here is the nightmare scenario: Peters inspiring other election officials across the country to join her crusade. The domino effect could lead to chaos across the country.
While organizers failed to get the signatures necessary to oust her after she left hundreds of ballots uncollected and uncounted in 2019, they should not be deterred from a follow-up attempt. Simple error is very different from sedition.
By actively working against the very interests voters elected her to protect, Peters may find that she has crossed a line that even many Republicans in ruby-red Mesa County cannot support. A bipartisan coalition working to preserve the core values of our country from internal attack would be a formidable alliance.
Peters’ malfeasance both undermines the very system she is charged with running, but she could also “win” again if left in office. If she does, Mesa County, Colorado and the country would all lose.
Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, health care and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq