Two former Colorado GOP candidates who subscribe to election denial claims cannot get a hand recount of votes in their races in the 2022 primary election, the state’s Elections Division director told them this week.
Indicted Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters was running for the GOP nomination for secretary of state and Colorado House Rep. Ron Hanks was seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Both lost their races by large enough margins that they wouldn’t automatically trigger any recounts — the margin of victory would have to be within half of a percent.
Peters lost by 88,579 votes statewide, a difference of 14.2% of opponent Pam Anderson’s votes. Hanks lost by 56,563 votes, a difference of 8.92% of opponent Joe O’Dea’s votes.
Candidates have the opportunity to request recounts of their elections despite vote margins, but they would have to pay for the costs that counties would incur to conduct the tabulations. Both Hanks and Peters requested recounts in letters notarized July 12 and 13 and sent to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. The office cited the cost for recounts in each race as $236,279.37, and the law requires candidates to pay for costs within a day of receiving the estimate.
Neither candidate submitted payment by the deadline. In letters dated July 15, Peters and Hanks then requested the cost of hand recounts for their races, making identical claims about security vulnerabilities and problems with the Dominion Voting Systems used — a common target for election conspiracy theorists.
However, election rules say the recounts must be conducted in the same manner as the original election, Elections Division Director Judd Choate wrote to Peters and Hanks on Tuesday. The only way a different type of recount would be allowed is if there were certain discrepancies that did not occur in this election.
Additionally, Choate refuted the security claims and said the candidates’ reference to “rigorous post-election tabulation audits of the human-readable portions of physical ballots and paper records” have already been conducted by counties, and it confirmed the outcome of the of the races without any discrepancies reported by any county.
If either candidate still wants to go through with a recount using the same systems as allowed by law, they have until July 26 to submit new notarized requests and payment for the associated costs, Choate wrote.
Neither Peters nor Hanks or their campaigns responded to requests for comment on Wednesday afternoon.
On Wednesday, the Colorado County Clerks Association said in a statement that Peters sent an email to county clerks saying she was planning to request a hand recount of votes from “selected counties” but that she did not specify which counties, “nor did she explain her authority to request this illegal form of recount.”
The association said it had not heard of clerks receiving a similar request from Hanks.
“Clearly, Peters’ request is part of a larger effort to create chaos, disrupt, and cause doubt in our elections,” Executive Director Matt Crane said. “Voters already sent a resounding message to these people by ensuring that election deniers on the ballot across the state were rejected. This seems like just another stunt to try and seem legitimate.”
Crane said Peters should stop trying to deceive Colorado citizens “with her election lies and lack of knowledge,” and instead let the “true election professionals” continue to run safe and secure elections.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said in a statement that “unequivocally, these allegations are false” of the claims made in Peters’ and Hanks’ letters.
“The Republican Senate and Secretary of State Primary race were each audited, and the results were confirmed as accurate by bipartisan election judges,” according to the statement.