DENVER – A report released Thursday by the Republican Mesa County district attorney found there was no outside interference in elections in 2020 and 2021 in the county, as was claimed by conspiracy theorists there, and that a since-fired election worker instead might have made errors in using election software.
Dan Rubinstein, the 21st Judicial District Attorney, issued and presented his letter of facts and conclusions of law to Mesa County commissioners and Grand Junction city council members on Thursday, which contains the results of the investigation into a report, called “Report 3.” The report was delivered to his office on March 23, while a grand jury was still investigating Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and her deputy clerk, which ended in felony indictments for both.
Report 3 was delivered by Cory Anderson, the husband of a former Mesa County Republican vice chair, and Sherronna Bishop, one of Lauren Boebert’s former campaign managers and an election conspiracy theorist, according to Rubinstein’s office. Two other reports were made beforehand and given to the DA’s Office, including one delivered by Peters’ attorney.
Rubinstein wrote in his report that he felt the claims, which were backed by Peters, should be investigated.
Rubinstein wrote in his letter that the investigation found that the report “incorrectly attributes the anomaly of a second adjudication database to something other than human action” – specifically, actions made by Sandra Brown, an elections manager who was fired last November because of her alleged involvement in the Mesa County elections system breach that led to Peters being indicted.
“Report 3” made claims that there were new and “unauthorized” databases created on Oct. 21, 2020, ahead of the General Election, and during the 2021 Grand Junction municipal election on March 30, 2021, and claimed that interviews had been done that showed the only way that could have been done was through outside meddling.
It claimed, according to Rubinstein’s report, that the Dominion Voting Systems server the county had been using “had programming within it designed to disrupt and alter ballot processing based on the computer’s detection of ‘unexpected voting patterns’” and that it was not the election workers on site who caused the issues but “rather the computers.”
“The unstated, but necessary conclusion to that suggestion is that the humans who manufactured and programmed the computers are culpable, since it is widely understood that computers cannot create or program themselves,” Rubinstein wrote in his report.
The allegations are tied to the tabulation and adjudication of ballots – the process by which the votes are counted and any issues resolved. It also makes claims that some ballots may have been preloaded into the system and worked into the overall ballot count. The “Report 3” claimed that Mesa County election workers said they were not involved in disrupting those processes or causing the issues that led to some ballots being reprocessed.
But Rubinstein wrote in his report that he and his investigators were not able to find a single person who said they were interviewed by the people who wrote “Report 3” out of 11 people who were in the tabulation room in October 2020. Brown refused to talk to Rubinstein’s team through her counsel, and Peters declined to cooperate through her counsel.
With respect to the October 2020 incident, Rubinstein’s team found that when Brown ran into problems, she did not contact Dominion, which could have told her she was performing the wrong procedure to fix the issue at hand.
The investigation found that she started a new adjudication session, which created a new database and which Dominion user instructions say should not be done in the middle of ballot processing.
“It is unknown what specifically resolved the apparent error Ms. Brown encountered, but she took one basic measure and two extreme measures on October 21, 2020,” Rubinstein’s report states.
“At this time it is unclear if Elections Manager Brown conducted any actions which resulted in the deletion of any election records that are required to be maintained. To date, we have found no evidence that she, or anyone else, did,” the report goes on to say. “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, and further has found evidence specifically contradicting the assertion that ballots could have been preloaded.”
With respect to the March 2021 allegations made in the report, all employees involved in tabulation and adjudication that day said they had ever been interviewed about the situation by anyone until Rubinstein’s team contacted them.
Similar issues arose involving the tabulation process, according to Rubinstein’s report. But Brown did follow steps from Dominion to resolve the adjudication issue, though she did not complete the “reject and delete” process initially, stopping the initial session and starting a new one.
Eventually, Brown called Dominion and an employee walked her through successfully completing the “reject and delete” procedure, which restarted the correct process. Ultimately, according to Rubinstein’s report, the team processed all the ballots in adjudication and validated and published the results.
Similarly to the first incident, the investigative team said it wasn’t clear whether Brown did anything that deleted election records, but found no evidence she or anyone else did so.
“We have found extensive evidence that the conclusions in Report 3 are false,” Rubinstein reiterated in regard to the March 2021 incident. “Finally, and most significantly, this investigation uncovered no evidence that would indicated [sic] outside interference with the election.”
The report’s conclusion found that while there “appears to be anomalies in the section logs, caused by intentional actions of Sandra Brown,” the investigative team found no evidence to show 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.”
“At this time, no evidence suggests that these actions negatively impacted the election,” the report adds in its conclusion.
“This is what clerks have been saying for months. The elections in Mesa County and across the state of Colorado are fair, accurate and safe,” said Matt Crane, the executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, in a statement. “The election workers in Mesa County were simply correcting an error. But like all of these so-called reports from election deniers, they misunderstand how the system works, misunderstand election law and then draw false conclusions from those misunderstandings. We appreciate what Mesa County investigators have done to clear the record.”
Peters was removed for a second time earlier this month as Mesa County’s Designated Election Official after her indictment. She is still running for the Republican nomination for Secretary of State.