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Recount results are in: Tina Peters remains a loser in Colorado secretary of state’s race

Republican candidate picked up 13 votes, but so did her opponent
Tina Peters, a candidate for Colorado secretary of state, is seen at the GOP assembly April 9 at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs. (Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun file)

Indicted Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters remains a loser in the Republican primary for Colorado secretary of state.

The results of a statewide recount of the more than 623,000 votes cast in the contest last month showed Peters still losing by about 90,000 votes or 14 percentage points to former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson.

Peters picked up 13 more votes through the recount, but so did Anderson. Mike O’Donnell, a third candidate running in the GOP primary, picked up 11 more votes.

During the recount process, Elbert County Clerk and Recorder Dallas Schroeder, a Republican, notified state elections officials that his office had found 37 unopened ballots in a bin that was being prepared for storage after the primary. The ballots were returned before the June 28 primary, so state elections officials ordered them processed.

“The votes cast in the races on the ballots have been added to all races covered in the Elbert County primary election,” the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said in a written statement. “It is worth noting that no race was close enough for this number of ballots to change any of the margins of victory for any candidate in Elbert County, or any statewide candidate on Elbert County’s ballot.”

Schroeder has aligned himself with 2020 election deniers and faced scrutiny from state officials earlier this year for making a digital copy of his county’s election system. He is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed earlier this year against Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, seeking an audit of the state’s election system.

The majority of Colorado’s counties saw little to no change in their results after the recount.

“The recounts are complete and confirm once again that Colorado elections are safe and secure,” Griswold said in a written statement.

The Colorado County Clerks Association earlier on Thursday said Peters had gained just four votes from the recount and that Anderson had gained seven votes. That tally did not appear to factor in the unopened ballots in Elbert County.

“The recount she asked for showed she lost, just as our post-election audits already held in every county and certified by volunteer citizen canvass boards found,” Matt Crane, who leads the association representing local election leaders, said in a written statement.

Peters, a 2020 election conspiracy theorist, paid more than $250,000 for the recount, the first statewide retabulation of votes in 20 years. She began claiming in the moments after she lost that there was malfeasance in the June 28 primary. She never provided evidence, however.

Peters cited her win in April at the Republican state assembly, where about 3,500 GOP delegates picked their party’s primary candidates – a fraction of the number who voted in the June 28 election – as a reason she should have won the primary. Peters also claimed the results of unscientific straw polls at Republican events indicated she would win the primary.

Peters saw an influx of campaign contributions after the primary as she questioned the results. She raised more than $500,000 between June 29 and July 27, her largest fundraising haul since she announced her bid to become secretary of state earlier this year.

In fact, Peters raised more money during the last fundraising period than the four Republican nominees for state-level statewide office combined did during the same period.

Peters requested that the recount be completed by hand, but state officials said that would be against the rules. The ballots were tabulated in the same manner they were counted the first time – by machine.

A second recount was conducted in El Paso County of votes cast in the Republican primary for Senate District 9. Lynda Zamora Wilson paid about $20,000 for the retabulation, which showed her losing to GOP Sen. Paul Lundeen of Monument by one more vote that previously thought.

Peters was indicted in March on 10 counts, including allegations of attempting to influence a public servant and criminal impersonation. The charges stem from a security breach of her county’s election system last year surrounding a sensitive election software update.

Anderson will face Griswold in November.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, go to coloradosun.com.