Surprise, surprise: They both have ties to conspiracy theory enthusiast and pillow baron Mike Lindell.
In the 2020 U.S. presidental election, Colorado went pretty comfortably to Joe Biden, who received nearly half a million more votes than Donald Trump...or so they would have you believe. Last year, the Republican county clerk for Mesa County, Tina Peters, leaked the voting machine passwords to online in an attempt to reveal what she falsely believed was massive voter fraud — and it turns out she wasn’t alone.
On Wednesday, it was revealed that a second Trump-backing county clerk in Colorado not only bought in to the stolen election conspiracy theory, but also tampered with his county’s voting machines in order to prove it. Dallas Schroeder, the Elbert County clerk, made copies of the hard drives containing voting data from the Dominion Voting System machines used during the 2020 election, according to 9 News in Denver.
While Schroeder kept one of the copies for himself, he reportedly gave the second to an unidentified lawyer. The identity of that second source has not been publicly revealed, but has been shared under seal with the judge who is currently presiding over a lawsuit against Schroeder for tampering with election machines.
While it’s not publicly known who Schroeder shared the hard drives with, it does seem clear that whoever it was passed the data around. According to the Daily Beast, the information from Elbert County machines has been cited in court by MyPillow CEO and election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell. The Daily Beast also reported that Schroeder has been in contact with Shawn Smith and Mark Cook, two conspiracy theorists who have ties to Lindell. The county clerk also reportedly used a device borrowed from Cook to copy the data, per Reuters.
Peters, the other county clerk who has been pushing the election fraud conspiracy and who leaked her county’s voting machine passwords to far-right website The Gateway Pundit, has also been connected to Mike Lindell. Peters appeared at Lindell’s farcical Cyber Symposium, in which he promised data proving election fraud but delivered none; she also stayed at a “safe house” provided by Lindell to evade FBI questioning.
While Peters and Schroeder face potential legal consequences for cracking open their county’s voting machines and stealing information, other county clerks in Colorado are dealing with security risks. According to ABC News, conspiracy theorists have threatened the lives of clerks who they believe are trying to hide the supposed fraud. In response election officials across the state have started wearing bulletproof vests and participated in active shooter trainings to protect themselves.
The situation is a reminder that there are real consequences when people fall prey to conspiracy theories. Those people can — and often do — become a danger to themselves and to others when they’re this disconnected from reality.