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Colorado Secretary of State files lawsuit to remove Mesa County clerk

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Robert Davis | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold filed a lawsuit Monday to bar embattled Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters from overseeing elections.

The lawsuit asks for Peters to be removed from serving as Mesa County’s designated election official (DEO) and be replaced with former Secretary of State Wayne Williams. County Treasurer Sheila Reiner would serve as Mesa County’s director of elections.

The lawsuit comes weeks after Griswold determined Peters was not fit to oversee the upcoming November election. Peters is accused of being responsible for an "internal security breach" of the county’s election system, which led to the dissemination of sensitive election materials.

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The Colorado Department of State, the 21st District Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations are still investigating the matter.

“My priority is ensuring that the voters of Mesa County have accessible and secure elections,” Griswold said in a statement. “With the quickly approaching election, I am taking action to ensure that the county’s election office can provide great elections for Mesa voters. As Secretary of State, I will continue to provide the support and oversight needed to ensure the integrity of Colorado’s elections.”

During the initial investigation, Griswold requested surveillance footage and other materials that could prove materials were in the proper chain of custody during the time period in question. Peters, in turn, did not provide any responsive documents.

Griswold added Monday that the lawsuit is necessary as the secretary of state doesn't have the authority to remove a DEO.

“[Peters] is not fit to serve as the DEO after allowing breaches to election security protocol,” Griswold said.