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Tag: county clerk

Indicted Colorado County Clerk And Election Denier Crushed In GOP Primary

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

Peters and her deputy, Belinda Knisley, were indicted on March 8. Peters was indicted on seven felony charges and three misdemeanors, including identity theft, criminal impersonation, attempting to influence a public servant, and official misconduct after she allegedly helped an unauthorized person gain access to a room that housed Mesa County's election equipment in August 2021 and gave an unauthorized person passwords for the equipment.

Images of the voting machine data wound up being published by a Telegram social media account run by believers in the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory that a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles runs the U.S. government. The FBI said the QAnon movement is a domestic terror threat.

Peters had declared herself a candidate for Colorado secretary of state the previous month, challenging incumbent Democrat Jena Griswold, who had been investigating Peters at that point for seven months and released a statement in response to Peters' announcement that said, "Peters compromised voting equipment to try to prove conspiracies, costing Mesa County taxpayers nearly one million dollars. She works with election deniers, spreads lies about elections, was removed from overseeing the 2021 Mesa County election, and is under criminal investigation by a grand jury."

In response to a suit filed by Griswold, Mesa County District Judge Valerie Robison in May barred Peters from overseeing the 2022 midterm elections in the county because of the indictments, writing, "Based on the circumstances of this case … the Court determines that the Petitioners have met the burden of showing that Peters and Knisley have committed a neglect of duty and are unable to perform the duties of the Mesa County Designated Election Official."

Peters did not accept her primary defeat.

She told supporters Tuesday night, as results showed her trailing the Anderson by double digits, "We didn't lose, we just found evidence of more fraud. ... They're cheating and we'll prove it once again. ... It's not over. Keep the faith."

Peters was one of several Republican election deniers running for secretary of state positions in 2022. Not all of them have won.

In Nevada, Republicans nominated Jim Marchant, a Trump supporter who has pushed numerous baseless and antisemitic voter fraud conspiracies.

But Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, one of the 147 congressional Republicans to vote against certifying President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in January 2021, lost a primary bid for Georgia secretary of state in May. Hice, who was endorsed by Trump, was handily defeated by incumbent Republican Brad Raffensperger, who had rebuffed efforts by Trump to steal Georgia's Electoral College votes.

In Colorado, Peters isn't the only election denier to have lost Tuesday night.

Republican state Rep. Ron Hanks, a Peters supporter who attended the "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington that preceded the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, lost his primary run for Senate.

Anderson will face Griswold in November.

Griswold, who ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination, has vowed to protect voting rights in Colorado.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Kentucky Clerk Against Same-Sex Marriage: ‘I Hope They Don’t Sue Me’

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, county clerks across the country with religious objections have found themselves at the forefront of a political battle.

Some of the most outspoken against enforcing the ruling have been clerks in Kentucky, including the one for Casey County. That would be the aptly named Casey Davis, 42, a Republican based in the county seat of Liberty. Casey County, in central Kentucky, has a population of about 16,000.

In a telephone interview with the Los Angeles Times shortly before he closed his office Thursday ahead of the July 4 holiday, Davis explained his opposition to same-sex marriage and offered a possible solution that would recognize religious rights while still providing licenses.

How many years have you been clerk, and what did you do before that?

It’s been four years. I was a deputy in the circuit clerk’s office for eight years; before that I worked in a steel cord factory making steel for radial tires.

What is your religious affiliation, and why did that lead you to object to issuing same-sex marriage licenses?

I’m Separate Baptist. I believe that when the Lord said that man was to fall in love and cleave to his wife, that’s what he meant. I believe that First Chapter of Romans exclusively says homosexuality is not the right way to conduct ourselves.

But lay all that aside: It’s against nature. Nature’s law will ultimately trump man’s law…. I don’t think that my conscience, my belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, can possibly ever, ever allow me to see that differently. The oath that I took says that I’m to do this job to the best of my ability, so help me God.

But the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is the law of the land, right?

The powers that be have tried to redefine it, but you cannot redefine the Bible. If the federal government, state government, local government would be logical in their thinking, they really have no right to anything to do with marriage.

How did your office respond to the ruling?

Friday I was out of town, so we didn’t do anything until I came back in. On Monday, we didn’t issue any marriage licenses.

Did couples apply? What did you tell them?

I had one person come in and ask about it, then there were some other folks who called to ask about it. They were all opposite-sex couples and they were all very supportive of this. They said, “We don’t mind the drive [to Casey County], stick to what you know is right.”

We had same-sex couples call. They said I was going to do it or they were going to sue me. I said, “I’m sorry, but this is how it is, I apologize.” They can go to another county. Getting a marriage license is not their entire goal. They want me to issue one.

I had a homosexual man saying he was coming here to get a marriage license and I said, “Look man, I’m willing to drive you to another county.” That wasn’t what he wanted either: He wanted my name on it.

Do you usually issue a lot of marriage licenses?

We had 29 marriage licenses last year in Casey County. It’s not a rushing business here.

What have Kentucky officials told you to do?

I have pleaded with the governor since Monday to give me the same opportunity that he gave [Democratic Kentucky Attorney General] Jack Conway a year ago. He has not even cared enough to reply. Maybe he doesn’t see the way that I’m being discriminated against, and all the other clerks that believe like I believe.

Jack Conway said, for the fact of his conscience, he could not defend Kentucky’s marriage law, so our own Gov. Steve Beshear hired private counsel to defend the law for him. Why is it that Jack Conway’s rights are any more important than Casey Davis’ and the other county clerks who feel the same way I do? I didn’t want this, I didn’t ask for this, I didn’t wake up saying I want to inject turmoil into my life and hear what a bigot I am every day.

How have people reacted to your position?

If you could see the emails, the threats. I did an interview with MSNBC last night and afterward, there was a post online saying the way to handle this was to take me out and hang me. I had one woman come in and call me a horse’s behind. She left real quick.

I wish that person had in my heart what I have in mine. We can live in this world together and disagree. But they need to recognize my rights same as I’m expected to recognize theirs. Why can’t people be sympathetic to both sides of this?

Have you been sued?

I don’t have any reason to sue anybody, and I hope they don’t sue me.

Why not resign?

When I ran for this job, I was passionate about it. When I was first elected, 3,017 people elected me.

My plea to the people who want me out and gone is this: Let democracy do what it’s designed to do. When the voters decide that a person is no longer fit for a job, they vote somebody else in. Don’t have the government force me out or send me to jail.

Are you willing to go to jail rather than issue same-sex marriage licenses?

I’m willing to give my life for it. There are millions of people in this country who died for my rights. If I don’t fight for it, those veterans died in vain. The threats I’m receiving won’t change my mind on this. If they died for me, I can live for them.

What’s going on in the nation is to me something I have to take care of here, and if I don’t take care of here, I can’t look my children in the eye anymore. We’re all in this together. I know there are clerks who feel just exactly like I do and they’re left not knowing what to do.

I have always given my children this advice: When you’re away from me and don’t know what to do, stand still. That is the best way for me to handle this at this time. There is a solution to this if there is a willingness.

When you contacted the governor, you proposed creating an online state system for issuing marriage licenses. Would that resolve the conflict for you and other clerks with religious objections?

That’s the most simple solution to this problem. Everything else is available online; why can’t marriage licenses be available online?

In the technological age we live in, that needs to be a choice. That would take it out of the hands of an individual and stop that problem. And to be clear, I don’t want online issuance of marriage licenses just for gay couples; I want it for everyone. Making a difference for one couple versus another, that’s not what I’m out to do.

Photo: Fox 56 WDKY screengrab via YouTube