UPDATE (Monday, July 18): Over the weekend, the Colorado Secretary of State's Office confirmed that it did not receive the funds from either Peters or Hanks, so there will be no recount.
DENVER – One of the reasons a Mesa County judge revoked Tina Peters’ bond and issued a warrant for her arrest Thursday was because she had paperwork sent to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office that was notarized in Nevada seeking a recount in the primary election she is poised to lose handily.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office formally received the recount request on Thursday morning, as well as a recount request from Ron Hanks, who lost his Republican U.S. Senate primary by nearly 10 percentage points and 57,000 votes to Joe O’Dea, according to data from the Colorado Secretary of State's Office.
Election results for the primary have not been certified yet, as deadlines are upcoming for final canvass results, recounts and risk-limiting audits over the next two weeks. But the gaps between the winners of the races and Peters and Hanks number in the tens of thousands.
Peters lost in her Republican Secretary of State primary by 14 percentage points and 88,000 votes to Pam Anderson, and narrowly beat out Mike O’Donnell by about 0.8% and fewer than 5,000 votes for second place in the race.
But she has been questioning the validity of the primary election since the night of, as she has most elections since Donald Trump lost in November 2020.
Still, she and Hanks, who is another 2020 election conspiracy theorist and who attended the Jan. 6 rally at the U.S. Capitol, both have asked the Secretary of State’s Office for recounts in their respective races.
“The Secretary of State’s Office has received formal notices requesting a recount from Ron Hanks for the 2022 Republican Primary Election Race for U.S. Senate and Tina Peters for the 2022 Republican Primary Election Race for Secretary of State,” the office said in a statement Thursday. “The Secretary of State’s Office will follow all the steps required by Colorado Statute regarding any request for a recount.”
The recount requests from Peters and Hanks are mostly identical but have slightly different passages relating to their respective races. The basis of their argument surrounds a June 1 advisory from the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) after a computer scientist found some software vulnerabilities in Dominion Voting Systems equipment, though the report also found there was no evidence they had been exploited.
The CIA executive director said states’ election security procedures would detect any exploitations and in most cases would prevent any attempts to exploit the vulnerabilities. But the advisory also urged states to use “defensive measures to reduce the risk of exploitation of these vulnerabilities.”
In a statement when the advisory was released, the Colorado Department of State said CISA had confirmed that Colorado “is not directly impacted because Colorado does not use the software version that the researchers used.”
“Security and elections experts in the Department have reviewed CISA’s advisory and remain confident in the security of Colorado’s elections. There is no evidence that any of the potential risks identified in CISA’s advisory have been exploited in any election in Colorado or elsewhere,” the department said at the time. “Colorado is one of the nation’s leaders in secure elections and already implements a range of security measures that protect the state’s election equipment and voting systems from threats, including many of the mitigations CISA recommends.”
Still, both Peters’ and Hanks’ requests for recounts claim “the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office apparently took no remedial action.”
Further, both claim that the election results, as they were tabulated through Election Day, “show an unnatural near perfect correlation between the respective candidates after the first three updates,” which they said “strongly suggests vote tallies are being artificially controlled,” without offering much in the way of evidence other than a screenshot from the New York Times’ election tracker.
Specific to Peters’ request, she wrote: “I have reasons to believe extensive malfeasance occurred in the June 2022 primary, and that the apparent outcome of this election does not reflect the will of Colorado voters not only for myself but also for many other America First statewide and local primary candidates.”
She added that she was perplexed at the primary results because she won the state assembly, which differs greatly from an actual primary in terms of the voter demographic, that she took the highest position in an unidentified GOP poll, and that she “won every straw poll where I spoke by wide margins,” according to her letter.
In Hanks’ request, he also cited making the primary ballot through the state assembly and taking the highest position in a poll he claims was conducted three days before the primary election.
“There are significant indications malfeasance occurred in the June 28, 2022, primary, and the reported outcome of this election does not accurately reflect the will of Colorado voters in the race for US Senate or in other statewide races, as well as district and county races,” his letter said.
Hanks’ letter was notarized in Fremont County, while Peters’ was notarized in Clark County, Nevada, which is part of what led to the judge revoking her bond and issuing an arrest warrant Thursday that her attorney is seeking to quash.
Under Colorado Revised Statutes 1-10.5-106, a candidate can submit to an election official a notarized written request for a recount at their own expense if the automatic recount trigger margin is not met, as is the case here.
The statute says the election official to whom the letter is submitted – in both of these cases, Secretary of State Jena Griswold – “shall determine the cost of the recount within one day of receiving the request to recount, notify the interested party that requested the recount of the cost, and collect the costs of conducting the recount.”
The Secretary of State's Office on Thursday night said that both recounts would cost an estimated $236,279.37 each to do a recount for each race in all 64 counties, since both are statewide races.
If the full estimated cost is not sent to the Secretary of State's Office on Friday by 5 p.m., the request for a recount will be denied and there will be no recount.
Both Hanks’ and Peters’ letters claim that statute “does not permit you (Sec. Griswold) to determine the cost of the recount,” but the statute says otherwise.
“If the request is filed with the secretary of state, the secretary of state shall determine the cost of the recount by adding the individual amounts determined by the political subdivisions conducting the recount,” the statute states. “The interested party that requested the recount shall pay the cost of the recount by certified funds to the election official with whom the request for a recount was filed within one day of receiving the election official’s cost determination.”
The funds go into an escrow account to pay for all incurred expenses. If the recount reverses the results of the election in favor of the person who requested it, the money would be refunded to the candidate.
If the escrow funds are not refunded to the candidate, they will be paid to the election officials who conducted the recount, the statute says. Any recount has to be completed no later than 37 days after the election.