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Mesa County clerk ousted over leaked voting machine passwords pleads not guilty

Tina Peters first came under scrutiny for leaking voting machine passwords and allowing unauthorized individuals to access voting equipment during a security update.

GRAND JUNCTION (CN) — Embattled former clerk of Mesa County Tina Peters pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to criminal charges stemming from the 2021 leak of voting machine passwords during a security update.

Peters, 68, faces three felony counts of attempting to influence a public servant, four felony counts related to impersonation and identity theft and a misdemeanor count each of official misconduct, violating her duties and failing to comply with the secretary of state’s requirements. She is scheduled for an eight-day jury trial in February.

“This case needs to go to trial,” said 21st Judicial District Judge Matthew Barrett after denying requests from Peters’ attorney to push the trial back to accommodate a tight schedule.

Attorney Doug Richards practices with the Denver firm Richards Carrington and represents Peters.

The charges follows a grand jury indictment filed in 2022 by citizens who had elected Peters as county clerk and recorder.

Peters stepped down from her post in 2022 to run for secretary of state, but lost in the Republican primary.

The charges stem from events that took place between April and May 2021, when Peters first came under scrutiny. In addition to leaking voting machine passwords, prosecutors say Peters allowed unauthorized individuals to access voting equipment during a security update. Videos of the voting machine updates were broadcast over the social media site Telegram and the Gateway Pundit blog.

Earlier civil complaints accused Peters of letting a man named Gerald Wood access Mesa County voting equipment during the May 2021 update.

According to prosecutors, Peters asked Wood to help her back up Dominion voting machines and obtained credentials for him under the guise that he was a new state employee. In response to a subpoena, Wood said he never performed work for the county and returned his access badge the same day he received it.

During the trusted build, Peters introduced a man to Dominion employees as Gerald Wood, saying he was a motor vehicles employee training to transition to the election division.

The grand jury indictment revealed Wood’s sworn testimony that he was not present at the trusted build — and Peters stands accused of impersonating Wood.

District Attorney Daniel Rubenstein investigated Peters' claims of election fraud, discovering several instances of human error, rather than an attempt to change the results of an election.

While under investigation for breaching election security, Peters has been embraced by a community of conservatives who subscribe to baseless conspiracy theories spread after Biden won the presidency in 2020.

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Categories / Criminal, Government, Politics

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