Bente Birkeland

Bente Birkeland has covered Colorado politics and government since spring of 2006. She loves the variety and challenge of the state capitol beat and talking to people from all walks of life. Bente's work has aired on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, American Public Media'sMarketplace, and she was a contributor for WNYC's The Next Big Thing. She has won numerous local and national awards, including best beat reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors. Bente grew up in Minnesota and England, and loves skiing, hiking, and is an aspiring cello player. She lives in Lakewood with her husband.

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SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

It's been nearly a month since sensitive data about voting equipment in Colorado's Mesa County was posted online by conspiracy theorists eager to cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 election.

At the center of the criminal investigation into how that information was released is county clerk Tina Peters, whose whereabouts remain unknown. She hasn't returned to work in Mesa County since the data breach was announced.

Colorado officials said Thursday that a local county clerk allowed an unauthorized person into a secure facility during an annual upgrade to the county's election equipment software, compromising the equipment.

The Mesa County clerk, Tina Peters, could be in legal trouble. She's currently at a conference led by a prominent election conspiracy theorist.

Updated September 3, 2021 at 10:29 AM ET

Colorado's new redistricting process was intended to replace politicians with independent commissioners and party interests with public input, but developments show there are still plenty of ways for partisans to try to influence the process.

A recent complaint filed by a Democratic attorney alleges that three prominent Colorado Republicans have been trying to influence the state's redistricting process without disclosing their efforts or properly registering as lobbyists.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In 2020, as the news of the death of George Floyd spread around the country, so did many peaceful protests calling for justice and police accountability.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

The right-wing media outlet Newsmax, which amplified former President Donald Trump's false allegations of election rigging and widespread voter fraud, said on Friday there is no evidence that Dominion Voting Systems and one of its top employees, Eric Coomer, manipulated election results in 2020.

The victims of some of the most pernicious conspiracy theories of 2020 are fighting back in court.

Voting equipment companies have filed a series of massive defamation lawsuits against allies of former President Trump in an effort to exert accountability over falsehoods about the companies' role in the election and repair damage to their brands.

Dominion Voting Systems has filed suit against former President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani over baseless claims he's made that Dominion was at the center of a scheme to perpetuate widespread election fraud.

The Denver-based company, which is seeking $1.3 billion in damages from Giuliani, provides election equipment and software to 28 states, including the majority of the equipment used in the swing states on which Trump and his surrogates focused most of their post-election ire.

More than a month ago, Eric Coomer went into hiding.

The voting conspiracy theories that have led millions of Republicans to feel as though the election was stolen from them, which are still spreading, have also led to calls for Coomer's head.

A version of this story was originally published by Colorado Public Radio.

Updated Dec. 23, 5:40 p.m. ET

A top employee of Dominion Voting Systems, who has gone into hiding after becoming the subject of conspiracy theories on the right since the election, is suing the Trump campaign, a number of campaign surrogates and pro-Trump media outlets, alleging defamation.

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