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Recount is over; Tina Peters' primary loss stands

The difference in totals can be attributed to a human interpretation of ballots.

DENVER — A recount confirmed what Colorado already knew: Tina Peters lost in the Republican Secretary of State primary race.

All 64 counties finished their recount by the deadline, Aug. 4. The Colorado Secretary of State's Office released official numbers Thursday afternoon.

Peters gained 13 votes in the recount process. The winner of the original primary count, former Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Pam Anderson, also gained 13. A third candidate, Mike O'Donnell, earned 11 more votes.

Ultimately, this means Peters still lost to Anderson by 88,578 votes.

The difference in totals can be mostly attributed to a human interpretation of ballots that require more scrutiny. If a ballot has an extra mark, for example, the voting machines will flag that ballot, which will then be examined by two people of opposing affiliations. They must agree on that voter's likely intention before the ballot can be counted.

Additionally, 37 unopened ballots were discovered in Elbert County and tallied in the recount.

According to a statement from the Secretary of State's Office, the ballots were returned to the Elbert County Clerk's Office on June 10, but were never opened. Elbert County Elections Director Rhonda Braun told 9NEWS that the United States Postal Service delivered a bin to the county and that bin was inadvertently not opened.

Inside, there were 37 voter returned ballots and 225 undeliverable ballots. The Secretary of State's Office said that because the 2022 primary election was still open as a result of the recount, the 37 ballots could be opened and counted. The votes for all races on those ballots were counted and added to the original totals. No race was close enough for those votes to make a difference. After those votes were counted, Peters received an additional nine votes in Elbert County, Anderson received six more votes in Elbert County and O'Donnell received 11 more votes in Elbert County.

The error means Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder joins Peters, the Mesa County clerk, in failing to count all the ballots returned in an election.

In the 2019 election, more than 500 Mesa County ballots were found uncounted, having been left in a Grand Junction dropbox until they were discovered more than three months after they had been cast.

Ironically, both Peters and Schroeder have sued the Colorado Secretary of State questioning the integrity of the state's elections.

Schroeder, like Peters, has publicly questioned the integrity of Dominion Voting Systems machines. He was found to have made two copies of his county's Dominion servers and forced by a judge to turn over the copies earlier this year. 

Peters had to come up with the $255,000 needed for this recount. About 4,800 people, mostly from outside of Colorado, sent her donations following two appearances on a webcast run by Steve Bannon, a former advisor to President Donald Trump.

Peters gained more in donations after losing the primary race than she did before.

Anderson will go on to face the Democratic incumbent, current Secretary of State Jena Griswold, in November's general election.

Peters currently remains the clerk and recorder in Mesa County, though she is not allowed to report to work or contact the office because of felony charges related to a security breach of Dominion equipment in her county.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the final numbers from the Colorado Secretary of State's Office.

RELATED: Stop recount, Tina Peters, others ask Denver court, claiming 'unreliable' Dominion voting machines

RELATED: Money flooded into the Tina Peters war chest weeks after she lost the primary

RELATED: Colorado candidates are getting their recounts, but not by hand

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