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Two GOP primary losers in Colorado fail to pay for recounts

Colorado's secretary of state's office on Wednesday said it has told two candidates who lost their Republican primary races last month that it will not conduct a recount of those races because they failed to pay the required amount by the deadline.

The office informed Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who lost her race for the GOP nomination for secretary of state, and state Rep. Ron Hanks, who fell short in his bid for the party's U.S. Senate nomination, that it was moving forward finalizing the results of the primary. Neither candidate paid the $236,000 that was due by July 15 for the recount.

In letters sent to the office on Tuesday, both said they wanted a hand recount rather than one done by machine. A centerpiece of their election conspiracy theory has been mistrust of voting machines.

Colorado elections clerk Tina Peters
Tina Peters speaks to supporters at her election watch party in Sedalia, Colo., on June 28, 2022. An arrest warrant was issued for Peters, a Mesa County, Colo., clerk clerk indicted on charges of tampering with voting equipment, after she allegedly traveled out of state despite a court order not to do so, according to court documents. A judge revoked bond for Peters after District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said in the documents that he had learned she traveled to Nevada for a conference. Thomas Peipert/AP

Peters and Hanks have promoted the false claim that President Joe Biden did not actually win his election against former President Donald Trump in 2020 and also claimed widespread fraud led to their losses in the state's June 28 GOP primary. They are part of a growing number of deniers of the outcome of the 2020 election also questioning their own primary losses.

The secretary of state's letters said a hand recount is not allowed under the office's regulations and dismissed the candidates' concerns about possible fraud. It said they have one last window to pay for a recount — until July 26.

"The Secretary of State's Office followed all statutes and rules regarding requests for recounts, and Mr. Hanks and Ms. Peters chose to not provide the certified funds as required under law," spokeswoman Annie Orloff said. "Coloradans made their voices heard and candidates should accept the results of a secure and fair election – not spread disinformation."

There was no response to a request for comment from an email set up for both candidates.

Meanwhile, a group representing Colorado's county clerks said Peters sent an email to clerks early Tuesday saying she would be requesting a hand recount of ballots in certain unspecified counties. Matt Crane, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, said state law did not allow such requests to be made directly to individual counties and that he feared the "improper request" could trigger more attacks on county clerks and their election staff.

"Clearly, Peters' request is part of a larger effort to create chaos, disrupt, and cause doubt in our elections," he said in a statement.

He noted that her race was not close: Peters lost the GOP primary to a former local clerk, Pam Anderson, by about 88,500 votes.

The request came just ahead of Wednesday's deadline for counties to certify the election results after rechecking and auditing the vote count.

The normally routine verification of election results was subject to controversy in Nevada and New Mexico after critics raised concerns about voting machines and mail ballots.

But no problems have been reported in Colorado. All of the state's 64 counties say they have completed their certifications or expect to by the end of the day, said Jack Todd, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office.

The office has until Monday to review the certification reports before officially signing off on the election results.

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