DA investigation refutes Tina Peters’ claims of Mesa County 2020 election fraud

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Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s offices in Grand Junction on August 26, 2021.

An investigation into potential election fraud claims concluded human error — not a malicious actor — was the cause of anomalies in Mesa County’s vote tabulation system.

Mesa County’s District Attorney Dan Rubinstein ordered the investigation into a report made by supporters of Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, based on their analysis of images of the county’s Dominion Voting Systems hard drives.

Election fraud conspiracy theorists have released three reports purporting to find evidence of misdeeds in the hard drive data, which Peters allowed an unauthorized person to copy from her office’s machines last year. Rubinstein looked into the third report because he said it was the only one to allege criminal conduct, in this case “potentially unauthorized and illegal manipulation of tabulated vote data during the 2020 General Election and 2021 Grand Junction Municipal Election.”

However, in his presentation to Mesa County Commissioners Thursday, Rubinstein, a Republican, said his investigation found no evidence that the vote counts in either election were incomplete or improper, and that system anomalies during both elections were due to human error. 

“We have found extensive evidence that the conclusions in Report 3 are false. Finally, and most significantly, this investigation uncovered no evidence that would indicated(sic) outside interference with the election,” his report states.

Rubinstein said he began the investigation prior to the grand jury’s March indictment of Peters on charges of election tampering and misconduct for actions related to the unauthorized copying of the voting machine hard drives. 

Allegations and Findings

Report 3 was submitted to the DA’s office by Sherronna Bishop, Rep. Lauren Boebert’s former campaign manager, and Mesa County resident Cory Anderson. Both are leading proponents on the Western Slope of false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

Rubinstein said the report came with a call to decertify the county’s 2020 and 2021 election results, something that is outside his authority, and also, he said, not supported by the findings of his investigation.

The report was authored by the head of a software consulting company and a Lecturer Emeritus in computer science at Texas A&M University and focused on anomalies that occurred in both elections leading to the creation of a second database of tabulated votes. They alleged the vote counts could have been illegally manipulated during that process. And they concluded creation of the databases must have been illicit because local election staff told them they had done nothing out of the ordinary. 

“Mesa County personnel are very clear that they did nothing of the sort and explained that they would only do such a thing in an extreme emergency, as the process would have made the production of legally mandated reports very difficult,” stated the report.

However, that’s exactly what Rubinstein’s office concluded happened, after reviewing the election office’s video surveillance and call logs and interviewing staff and experts. 

“There appears to be anomalies in the election logs, caused by intentional actions of Sandra Brown, Elections Manager for the Mesa County Clerk’s Office. No evidence exists that would indicate that Ms. Brown had any nefarious or criminal motive in those actions, but rather appears to have been trouble-shooting problems in the flow of the adjudication process during the elections,” states Rubinstein’s report.

The DA’s investigation found that in both cases, at the exact time the databases were created, video surveillance showed Brown taking “extreme” measures to try to resolve a problem with the election equipment, instead of calling Dominion tech support.

Rubinstein said Brown, who was fired by the county’s Election Director last fall, and Clerk Peters, both declined to be interviewed for the investigation. Peters is now running for Secretary of State.

Investigators with the DA’s office also refuted the report’s assertion that its authors had spoken with staff at the election office..

“Despite repeated claims that there was extensive questioning of the Mesa County election officials, we were not able to locate a single person who said that they were interviewed by the drafters of Report 3,” said the DA’s report.

Walter Daugherity and Jeffrey O’Donnell authored Report 3. When investigators contacted Daugherity, of Texas A&M, he said that he didn’t personally talk to any of the election staff and that his co-author O’Donnell conducted the interviews. Rubinstein said O’Donnell declined to participate in the investigation and referred the DA’s office to Clerk Peters’ attorney.