In the latest battle over former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election defeat, a Republican county clerk in Colorado has been accused of allowing unauthorized access to voting machine passwords that ended up on the social media account of a QAnon leader.
An investigation led by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold concluded that Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters allowed an unidentified, unauthorized individual to attend a software update in May for election equipment made by Dominion Voting Systems. That person allegedly took images of software passwords, which were then posted online early this month, Griswold detailed in a press conference Thursday.
Those passwords were shared by conservative blog The Gateway Pundit, according to The Denver Post. In addition, photos and videos of the Dominion software update session were posted on the social media page of influential QAnon leader Ron Watkins, Colorado Public Radio reported.
Speculation on the identity of “Q,” the mythical government insider who gave the conspiracy theory its name, has long centered on Watkins, a site administrator of far-right message board 8kun, a hotbed of extremism where QAnon flourished early.
“To be very clear, Mesa County’s clerk and recorder allowed a security breach and, by all evidence at this point, assisted it,” Griswold said. She accused Peters of “actively working to undermine confidence and spread disinformation.”
Griswold said that one week before the breach, Peters ordered her staff to turn off the video surveillance system that monitors the voting machines, and that it was only recently turned back on.
The compromised voting equipment was decertified following what Griswold called a profound “breach in security.” Griswold said her office “cannot establish a verifiable chain of custody for any of the [current] voting systems components in Mesa County and cannot establish confidence in the integrity or security of those components.”
Local prosecutors have launched a criminal probe into the suspected breach. A probe by Griswold’s office is continuing.
Peters, who has baselessly challenged the election results, issued a statement simply saying that “citizens of Mesa County have been critical of election integrity. They have brought me their concerns and I have told them I will do everything in my power to protect their vote.”
At the time of Griswold’s press conference, Peters was attending MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s bizarre “Cyber Symposium,” reported the Colorado Daily Sentinel. Lindell had promised, again, to finally reveal proof that the presidential election was fraudulent — which he failed to do.
A Colorado association of county clerks is backing Griswold’s investigation. “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,” it said in a statement.
Concerns about the voting machine breach are similar to those stoked by the controversial Arizona recount of Maricopa County votes, which was launched earlier this year by Republicans livid over Trump’s November defeat in the state.
Auditors of the inexperienced, highly partisan Cyber Ninjas company, headed by QAnon disciple and Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, have been allowed largely unfettered, unsupervised access to ballots and other equipment. Election officials there have also said that those voting machines are no longer usable because they have also been comprised by a partisan operation.
Griswold’s full press conference on the security breach can be seen in the video up top.
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