Before Tina Peters campaigned for the office of Mesa County Clerk and Recorder, in 2018, she ran a construction firm with her ex-husband and sold nutritional supplements and wellness products through a multilevel-marketing company. She was best known around the Western Slope of Colorado as the mother of a Navy seal who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and, in 2017, died in a catastrophic accident when his parachute failed to properly open during an air show over the Hudson River. Her main campaign pledge was to reopen shuttered Motor Vehicle Department offices in the county. Despite having no public-service experience, she beat a fellow-Republican who had worked in the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s office for eleven years.
The 2020 general election in Mesa County, a reliably red district where Donald Trump won sixty-three per cent of the vote, went smoothly, despite the pandemic. Colorado is one of eight states where, in most elections, voters are automatically sent ballots, which they can return by mail or deposit in designated drop-off locations. According to Janet Rowland, who won a seat on the Mesa County Board of Commissioners that year, Peters invited local candidates to a presentation called “The Life of a Ballot,” in which she and her staff explained how Colorado’s vote-by-mail system worked; how the verification of signatures and the rejection of double voting were done; how the county’s scanners and tabulators, which were designed by Dominion Voting Systems, tallied the ballots; and how the Dominion system was air-gapped, with no Internet connectivity, so that the voting tally couldn’t be hacked. A newly elected county commissioner, Cody Davis, suggested that Peters do a recount of the paper ballots, just to “put everyone’s mind at ease.” But Peters said no, Davis recalled. “I think it’s just a few people that are in a frenzy because of what Donald Trump has done,” he remembered Peters saying. “There’s nothing to worry about.”
Peters never questioned the integrity of Mesa County elections until five months after Trump’s defeat. On April 6, 2021, she ran a nonpartisan city-council election in Grand Junction, Mesa County’s largest municipality, a city of sixty-seven thousand tucked behind a curtain of rimrock, near the border with Utah. As the results came in, Peters got “sick to her stomach,” her friend Sherronna Bishop recalled. “None of the four conservative candidates won, which was bizarre.” (A letter to a local newspaper noted a few weeks before the election that only four of the eight candidates showed up to a forum hosted by fifty-one community organizations. Those were the four candidates who won.)
Bishop, a winsome mother of four and the owner of a hair-and-makeup business, identifies as a “constitutional conservative.” In 2019, a year after the election of the state’s Democratic governor, Jared Polis, she began hosting a podcast called “America’s Mom” to promote what she called parental rights. “Basically, Polis was elected, and everything that I love about my state, he destroyed,” she said. “He passed comprehensive sex education” and a school vaccination bill, which Bishop mischaracterized as “mandatory,” and “killed oil and gas. And so I just started speaking out about it.” She also began hosting “concerned citizens’ meetings,” and remembers encouraging one of the attendees, a local restaurant owner named Lauren Boebert, to run for the state senate. Instead, Boebert ran for Congress. Bishop said she served as Boebert’s campaign manager through the primary. (A spokesperson for Boebert told me that Bishop was only “one of many volunteers” from her district.)
Boebert’s unlikely victory established Bishop as a political influencer with a reach beyond western Colorado. Steve Bannon has compared Bishop to the heroes of the American Revolution. She currently serves as the director of election security at Moms for America, a conservative advocacy group, which, this past December, held its annual awards ceremony at Mar-a-Lago. Not long after the municipal election in Grand Junction, Bishop connected with Douglas Frank, who was then crisscrossing the country, presenting evidence of a secret algorithm he said he’d discovered that supposedly showed how elections were rigged. Frank, a high-school math and science teacher with a doctorate in chemistry, had previously been promoting another mathematical formula that, he claimed, allowed him to determine the number of covid cases more accurately than state health authorities and the media. “I was modelling every single county in the United States, and people would come to my social-media pages to find out what the real numbers were,” Frank said. “So that’s how Sherronna first met me. I was on her podcast, and I had her on mine.”
Frank told me that, after building an audience of covid skeptics with his revisionist statistics, he was invited by several politicians to examine their 2020 election results. “I noticed a pattern,” Frank said. “And the pattern enables me to go into any state and look at one county. And, once I’ve looked at one county, I can predict all of the other counties to preposterous accuracy.”
PolitiFact, the fact-checking arm of the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism school and research organization, has given one of Frank’s claims about vote manipulation a hundred-per-cent “Pants on Fire” rating, but here’s how he explained the “essential steal” to me: “First, you inflate the roll ahead of time. That gives you a credit line of names you can use. If you add John Smith to the rolls, you know he’s not going to vote because he didn’t add himself. He doesn’t even know he’s registered. And then you print a ballot or you acquire a ballot for him, and turn it in, and it is accepted because he’s in the rolls.” But, Frank went on, “you can’t just add a million sixty-year-olds; you have to add them by some computer algorithm. And I’m a computer programmer—I understand all these algorithms. So I figured out the algorithms that they were using to, first of all, inflate the rolls, and then, second of all, decide who to vote for.”
To test his theory, Frank needed a place that defied prediction. “Because I’m a scientist, I was looking for controls,” he said. That’s when he and Bishop got on the phone. “I told her I was looking for a county that’s really conservative that I can’t predict and asked her to tell me about the elections there. And she burst into tears. ‘Oh, Dr. Frank, this is horrible,’ she says. ‘We just elected four of the most flaming leftists, and they’re doing all kinds of stuff in our community. Please come help us, Dr. Frank.’ So that’s why I went out there.”
On April 23rd, at Bishop’s invitation, Frank presented his findings to a packed conference room at a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Grand Junction. The admission price was fifteen dollars a head. Bishop’s father led the group in prayer. Peters was present, as was the chair of the Mesa County G.O.P. For nearly two hours, Frank, in a sweater-vest and a periodic-table bow tie, walked through his many charts and graphs, tossing out terms like “six-order polynomials” and “coefficients that go in front of high-exponent terms.” The audience laughed at his jokes, and cheered when he said that he hoped to hug every one of them “because that social-distancing stuff just ain’t right.” He urged the crowd to fan out across Mesa County, knocking on doors and gathering evidence that proved that there were discrepancies between the voter rolls and voting histories.
Bishop told Frank that a cohort of Mesa citizens affiliated with a local organization called Stand for the Constitution had already been canvassing. (Stand for the Constitution, which was started after Polis’s election, requires members to strictly follow “the Spirit of Gods Grace,” according to its bylaws.) At a second event, in Denver, the following day, Bishop asked Cory Anderson, one of the group’s members, to address the crowd. Anderson had been a national vice-president of Boots on the Ground Bikers for Trump. “With Dr. Frank’s help, we have the focus now,” Anderson said. “The first time I heard him speak, I was, like, ‘Man, that’s a red pill.’ Do you guys feel like you’ve been red-pilled tonight?”
That week, Peters met with Frank at her office. Bishop was present, as were members of the election staff. “Something very important happened at that point,” Frank told me. “I showed her a lot of this stuff, and she still wasn’t convinced. And then I said, ‘Well, there are two thousand dead people who voted in your election.’ And she says, ‘Well, that can’t be because we use signature verification.’ ” According to Frank, Peters then asked a person in charge of training staff members on signature verification to come in and explain how the process works. Frank recalled, “The trainer said that, when people start to reject too many signatures, they take them off duty,” which would, in his theory, allow fraudulent votes to go undetected. (There is no evidence that signature verification, which is not handled by Dominion’s systems, allowed thousands of dead people to vote in Mesa County, and a spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office explained that a bipartisan process is designed to prevent that from happening.) Frank went on, “You can see Tina Peters’s mouth fall open, and she excused everybody from the room. And then it was just me and her looking eyeball to eyeball. And she said, ‘O.K., I see we have some problems here. What are we going to do next?’ Well, we put together a plan.”
The plan that Frank devised with Tina Peters and Sherronna Bishop centered on a planned software update—called a “trusted build”—of the county’s Dominion Voting Systems machines. Because election equipment is not meant to be connected to the Internet, which could open it up to hackers, Dominion’s software upgrades are conducted in person, with only limited personnel in attendance. Frank said he told Peters that it was imperative to make a copy of the existing system before the machines were reprogrammed. “ ‘Otherwise, you’ll lose your evidence,’ ” Frank recalled telling her. “So that’s when I put her in contact with some people who could come in and do backups.”
One of the people Frank said he contacted was Mike Lindell, the MyPillow C.E.O., who has boasted about spending at least thirty-five million dollars to try to prove that the 2020 election was stolen. “Mike hired me to be a consultant in some of his lawsuits against Dominion Voting Systems,” Frank said. (Lindell disputed this characterization.) Frank also claimed that Lindell introduced him to Trump’s legal team on a video call. “It’s all the attorneys,” Frank said. “Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani and all those people—about sixteen of them. And they screened my work.” (Powell and Giuliani could not be reached for comments. Lindell denied personally introducing Frank to Trump’s legal team, though he added it was possible that one of his attorneys did.) Frank told me that he “passed along the information” about Tina Peters “to the Lindell team and said, ‘Look, she has these systems that need backup, and let’s send somebody to her who can do this, and do it properly.’ ” (Lindell said, “I had nothing to do with what Frank did with Peters and Bishop” at the time.)
Lindell told me that he’d been investigating the election in the weeks after Trump’s defeat, consulting with experts and looking through “piles and piles of evidence,” and something didn’t sit right with him. “One of the things that bothered me the most was that the voter rolls showed all these people that voted or said they’d voted in all these states where they were non-residents, or they were listed as people that weren’t alive anymore,” Lindell said. “So then I go, ‘You know what, this had to be machines, because people are genuinely good people.’ ” Lindell said he then “reviewed evidence” that machines had rigged the election, which eventually led him to Frank. “They use an algorithm in all these machines,” Lindell went on. “They’re preprogrammed. That’s why it’s the same in every county.” (Last year, Dominion filed a defamation lawsuit against MyPillow and Lindell, whom the company accused of making “false claims.” MyPillow countersued Dominion two months later. A Dominion spokesperson told me that, nearly two years after the 2020 election, “no credible evidence has ever been presented to any court or authority that voting machines did anything other than count votes accurately and reliably in all states.”)
Lindell made his fortune hawking pillows on infomercials, in which he claimed that they helped to cure sleep apnea, restless-leg syndrome, and a variety of other ills. (Prosecutors in California sued the company for deceptive advertising, and MyPillow settled for about a million dollars in 2016.) He was an early Trump supporter; in 2017, Trump hosted Lindell at the White House, and touted MyPillow, which is based in Minnesota, as a shining example of a company offering made-in-the-U.S.A. products. Lindell’s money has since paid for a team of seventy investigators, cyber experts, and lawyers, including Alan Dershowitz, to hunt for evidence of election fraud and to sue states to prohibit them from using electronic voting systems. On January 5, 2021, Lindell was at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where about fifteen Trump allies discussed the certification of the election scheduled for the next day. (Lindell said he was just a guest at the hotel and was not present at this meeting.) Ten days later, he met with Trump and presented “evidence” of election rigging and apparently passed along documents to the President that may have urged him to invoke the Insurrection Act and declare martial law before Biden’s Inauguration. (Despite a photograph obtained by the Washington Post showing Lindell outside the White House holding papers discussing these actions, Lindell told me that he was unaware of their contents and that the documents had been given to him by “some lawyers” to hand to Trump.)
Lindell has said he is willing to spend all of his money to change how American elections are conducted. “We’re in a new era, where there are cyberattacks every day in business, credit-card companies, SolarWinds back in the day, gas lines, all these things,” he told me. “But, when it happens in your election, it only has to happen once and you lose your country forever. You never get it back, like Venezuela, Australia, and Canada, these countries where you get a dictator and he’s never gonna let a fair election occur because he owns the computers.”
Mesa County’s trusted build was scheduled to start on May 25, 2021. Eight days earlier, according to an indictment later filed in a district court, Peters’s deputy, Belinda Knisley, had instructed the I.T. department to turn off the cameras in the area where the trusted build would take place. Around the same time, at Bishop’s recommendation, Peters reached out to a local man, Gerald Wood, with an offer of contract work in the county elections office. Wood was a software engineer, and he remembered meeting Bishop at one of Frank’s presentations in April. According to testimony that Wood later provided, Peters’s office sent him for a background check. After he’d been issued an I.D. badge, he said, Knisley took it from him, explaining that they’d be in touch if she needed his services. On May 23rd, a Sunday, Wood’s I.D. was used to access the elections office, and someone copied the voting system’s hard drive. Two days later, the I.D. was again used during the trusted build. After the update, another copy was made, this time of the new version of the system. The copied files included the proprietary operating software, not just to the Mesa County election system but to similarly configured Dominion Voting Systems across the country.
According to the Times, the person who likely used Wood’s badge and made copies of the Mesa County voting software was Conan James Hayes, a former pro surfer who has been closely associated with Lindell and Patrick Byrne, the former C.E.O. of Overstock.com, who, like Lindell, has spent millions of dollars trying to overturn the 2020 Presidential election. (Dominion filed a defamation lawsuit against Byrne last year, alleging that he “manufactured and promoted fake evidence to convince the world that the 2020 election had been stolen.”) In a live-stream video posted on Twitter, Byrne offered additional details about how the scheme unfolded: Hayes, whom Byrne described as “a very, very high-end white-hat security guy,” was given “some county credentials, or something, and he dressed up like a little nerd.” When representatives from Dominion Voting Systems and the Colorado secretary of state’s office showed up for the trusted build, Byrne went on, “what’s funny is that unbeknownst to them . . . one of those county workers wasn’t really a county worker.” Byrne said that Hayes FaceTimed him during the software update. “He had a name like Billy or something on his nametag. Billy the county worker. Hey, message to Dominion and Colorado secretary of state, that guy with ‘Billy’ on his nametag next to you, he was actually one of ours. He was filming you fuckers.” (It would later come out that Bishop’s credit card had been used to make the hotel reservation for Hayes’s stay in Grand Junction.)
Byrne told me that he met Hayes in August, 2020, “in work related to countering human trafficking,” and that Hayes was one of the most impressive people he knew. Hayes was an initial member of the “Bad News Bears,” a team assembled by Byrne that holed up in the Trump International Hotel prior to January 6th, looking for voting anomalies. When I asked Byrne how Hayes, who could not be reached for comment, had gone from surfer to hacker, he explained that “there are various government activities taking place in that Marines base on Oahu, socom and N.S.A.-type activities, and that a couple of the advanced hackers there took Conan under their wing and trained him for years.” Byrne told me that Hayes, who has been tied to a Twitter feed showing an affinity for QAnon conspiracies, left his team in January, 2021, though he admitted to cutting Hayes a check so he could keep working for a year. “I wanted Conan to be able to continue being Conan and doing Conan stuff,” Byrne said. “But it was not to work for me.” Lindell told me Hayes is now on his payroll.
In August, 2021, three months after the trusted build in Mesa County, Peters attended a cyber symposium hosted by Lindell in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Lindell had promised that the event would feature evidence that the 2020 election had been infiltrated and rigged by China in favor of Biden. But, at the start of the conference, Lindell told the audience that the symposium had been hacked, and, though he continued to promise that the bombshell evidence on the Chinese attack would be presented, it never was. According to Harri Hursti, a longtime election-security expert who attended the conference, “they did not submit any data.” Instead, they were only offered a few hundred megabytes of “meaningless garbage.” The whole thing might have been a bust, but then Peters took the stage with Bishop, both of whom Lindell had ferried to Sioux Falls on his private jet.
Days before the event, Ron Watkins, the longtime administrator of QAnon’s online forum (whom many believe to be Q himself), posted on his Telegram channel a grainy video of what appeared to be a conversation between an unnamed election official and an employee of Dominion Voting Systems, as well as blurry screenshots of computer passwords. Because passwords are unique to each system, it did not take long for the secretary of state’s office to trace them to Peters’s office. On August 10th, the day that Peters first appeared at Lindell’s symposium, the Mesa County district attorney executed a search warrant to look for evidence of a breach. “When I was on a plane to come see you kind folks . . . guess what they did,” Peters told the audience. “They . . . raided my office.”
The event unravelled from there. The next day, files from the Mesa County election system were projected on a big screen. Watkins, who was broadcasting remotely, planned to analyze them in real time, with Frank, who was onstage. But there were technical problems with the live stream, and Watkins could not hear what was happening in the auditorium. Then, suddenly, Watkins interjected that he was being advised by his lawyer to say that the files had been taken from Peters’s office and the “data review” needed to shut down. He also told the crowd that his lawyer urged him to issue the following statement: “I just learned that Conan James Hayes may have taken, without authorization, the actual hard drives from the Mesa County—or the Mesa, Colorado, County Clerk—and he needs to produce those hard drives immediately and return them to the clerk.”
Frank called Peters up to the stage to address this unexpected turn of events. She denied that any hard drives had been taken from her office “unless it happened during the raid.” Frank put his arm around Peters and told her he’d just been informed that they were “not allowed legally” to let her take questions.
The Mesa County files did show that the trusted build erased the software that had been used during the 2020 election. But that is precisely what the update was designed to do. The purpose of a trusted build is to patch the system’s known vulnerabilities and add new functionalities for users. In the process, the prior election software gets overwritten, which is why the clerk is supposed to back up the voting records and the system’s access and activity logs beforehand. (The paper ballots are also saved for more than two years.) Robert Graham, a cybersecurity professional who was at Lindell’s symposium, described the scene in Sioux Falls as “all weird nonsense.” “They’re trying to argue this thing that their listeners or the Republican masses want to believe,” he said, “and so they keep structuring the reality to fit that conspiracy theory.”
That August, both Jena Griswold, Colorado’s Democratic secretary of state, and Dan Rubinstein, the county’s Republican district attorney, announced that they had begun separate investigations into Peters and her deputy, Belinda Knisley. Griswold had much of the Mesa County voting equipment decommissioned; a district-court judge then barred Peters from overseeing Mesa County elections. The state’s ethics commission began receiving complaints alleging that Peters violated Colorado’s sixty-five-dollar gift limit for public officials when she accepted flights and lodging from Lindell, and that she operated a “criminal legal defense fund” to which Lindell once acknowledged contributing as much as eight hundred thousand dollars. (Lindell told me that he’d misspoken and, in fact, had not contributed a single dollar to Peters’s fund. “I thought I had put money,” he said. “But my lawyer and accountant told me, ‘No, Mike, you did not put any money.’ ”)
On November 16, 2021, F.B.I. agents searched the homes of Peters and Bishop. Bishop told me their digital devices were seized. In a video posted on her social-media channel, Bishop said that the federal agents were looking for evidence of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Three months later, Rubinstein announced that a grand jury had been impanelled to investigate the breach. That same day, Peters declared that she would be running for reëlection as county clerk. A month later, she scrapped that plan and announced on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” broadcast that she would instead be running for secretary of state. In so doing, she became one of at least twenty-two election deniers vying this year to take charge of elections in eighteen states, a move that is widely understood to be a coördinated bid to replace impartial election officials with Trump allies. At a 2021 QAnon-themed conference, Jim Marchant, who is now the Republican candidate for secretary of state in Nevada, said that Lindell and Byrne are part of a coalition behind this effort. (Both Lindell and Byrne denied this, but the America Project, an organization that Byrne co-runs, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to a political-action committee that supports the coalition.)
On March 8th, a few weeks after Peters announced her candidacy for Colorado secretary of state, the grand jury indicted her and Knisley for a mix of felonies and misdemeanors, including identity theft, conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation, and attempts to influence public officials. In the world of election deniers, it was a badge of honor. The next day, Bannon told his audience, “Tina Peters is now a national crusade.” Mike Flynn, Trump’s former national-security adviser, endorsed her candidacy. So far, the investigation into Peters has cost Mesa County more than a million dollars, a figure that does not include costs incurred by the district attorney’s office, local law enforcement, and the offices of Colorado’s attorney general and secretary of state. Though Peters was barred from entering the Clerk and Recorder’s Office, she continued to receive her ninety-three-thousand-dollar salary. She has denied any wrongdoing. (The Department of Justice declined to comment on whether it had opened an investigation into the case, but, so far, Bishop, Hayes, Lindell, Byrne, and Watkins have not faced legal action by the federal government for their involvement in the potential theft and distribution of the Dominion software.)
Peters’s campaign—with Bishop as its registered agent—got ugly, fast. At a rally in Denver that drew a few hundred participants, including Lindell, Peters said, “They are coming after me because I refuse to believe in their false religion of nationalized elections. So, to the left, I’m a heretic. I refuse to participate in the sin of looking the other way now that the forensic evidence has exposed their tainted voting machines.” Lindell, on his online show, displayed the names and phone numbers of the county commissioners and encouraged “everyone in Colorado” to call them. The commissioners then spent months fielding threats and hate mail. Peters accused Attorney General Merrick Garland of gunning for her and said that he promised Rubinstein “the world” in exchange for her head. She called the chair of the Colorado G.O.P. a rino for asking her to suspend her campaign in light of the indictment. She continually tried to discredit Pam Anderson, her main rival for the G.O.P. nomination, for having served as a board member for the nonpartisan Center for Tech and Civic Life, which funnelled hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to local election offices around the country to facilitate voting during the pandemic. The group had received a considerable donation from Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. “Pam and Jena are the wings of the same bird,” Peters said on a radio show two weeks before the Republican primary election. “We’ve Soros on one side, Zuckerberg on the other side.”
Her most vicious attack, perhaps, was levelled against Gerald Wood, the man whose identity she had allegedly stolen, who had been compelled to appear before the grand jury. Wood testified that he never worked for Mesa County and was not present when his I.D. was being used to procure the files. He later told an interviewer that he thought he’d been “set up from the beginning.” Peters claimed that Wood had perjured himself and said he would “have to deal with that.” Some in Wood’s social circle reportedly started referring to him as “Judas Jerry.” “These are people that call themselves Christians,” Wood’s wife, a pastor, said in a recent interview. “It’s been very devastating in a lot of ways.” (Wood could not be reached for comment.)
On June 28th, when the primary votes were tallied, Peters not only lost the election statewide by more than fourteen points, but she lost it in Mesa County, too. Perhaps not surprisingly, she took a page out of Trump’s playbook by refusing to concede, claiming that the election was fraudulent and demanding a recount. At first, she failed to come up with the more than two hundred thousand dollars it would cost to undertake a recount, and instead tried to enlist individual county clerks to do it. She continued to ask for donations to her recount effort, and received more than half a million dollars, most of it coming on a day when she appeared on Bannon’s show. “It’s not over,” she had told her supporters. But, when a recount was finally conducted, in early August, it confirmed the result: Peters lost to Anderson by nearly ninety thousand votes.
Some experts argue that what happened in Mesa County has increased the chances of an attack on similarly configured systems in future elections. According to J. Alex Halderman, a computer scientist at the University of Michigan who has studied Dominion systems extensively, the released files could “tell the Stop the Steal people and everyone else how to build an attack and how to write malicious code.” Two months after the Mesa County breach, the election clerk in Elbert County, Colorado, who admitted being assisted by at least one of Lindell’s associates, also made copies of the county’s election software and shared it with “unauthorized people,” according to a lawsuit filed by Griswold to get those copies back. In arguing the case, the secretary of state’s counsel pointed out that, if the files were not returned, they could be used to hack future elections. Earlier this year, the judge ruled in Griswold’s favor. (Griswold told the Post that she remains confident Colorado voting machines are secure.) There have also been breaches in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Ohio. Department of Homeland Security officials have warned of increasing intimidation and threats to election officials ahead of the 2022 and 2024 elections.
In July, a third suspect, Sandra Brown, the former Mesa County election manager, was charged in the case. Last month, Knisley took a guilty plea and agreed to testify against Peters. (Peters’s and Knisley’s attorneys did not respond to requests for comments.) If convicted, Peters faces decades in prison. Though her career as a public servant seems over, she is now the star of a new film backed by Lindell, “[S]election Code,” which was released in August. Billed as both a “documentary” and a “political thriller,” it describes Peters’s exploits in Mesa County as “critical to the survival of America.”
Though the film may serve only to raise her profile among election deniers, the larger crusade, which its adherents say is to restore “election integrity,” is ramping up, and has the potential to further erode public confidence in elections, drive people away from the polls, and put poll workers and election officials in harm’s way. Cory Anderson is involved with the U.S. Election Integrity Plan, a far-right group that has been sending volunteers door to door across Colorado, ostensibly to prove that the voter rolls have been compromised. During a video call hosted by Bishop, he reported that canvassers in Mesa County had found lots of anomalies—people who said they’d voted when there was no record that they had, or who said they hadn’t voted, though a ballot with their name on it had been cast. Rowland, one of the county commissioners, pointed out that it was the job of the elections clerk—in this case, Peters—to maintain accurate voter rolls. When Rowland and her colleagues asked Anderson and the other canvassers to share their evidence with commissioners, she said they demurred. “For the most part, these are well-intentioned people,” Rowland said. “I think they’ve gotten sucked into it. And I don’t know if they’ll ever see things clearly.”
Earlier this year, a group of civil-rights organizations sued the U.S. Election Integrity Plan for voter intimidation. The suit claimed that members with badges and carrying guns were knocking on doors, often targeting communities that voted Democratic in 2020, interrogating them about their voting history, and taking photos of their homes. (In documents filed in court by its lawyers, the group has denied those claims.) A month later, a federal judge denied the plaintiffs’ petition for a temporary restraining order, so the canvassing will be allowed to continue. One of U.S.E.I.P.’s leaders, Shawn Smith, is a retired Air Force colonel who has called himself “the No. 1 most dangerous election denier in Colorado.” One state official told me that the group has been pressuring election clerks to delicense their voting equipment, and urging sheriffs to arrest election officials. Last year, Smith was critical to the launch of Cause of America, a new effort to bring similar canvassing tactics to every state. It, too, is funded by Mike Lindell. ♦