“We want to get more Tinas. We need more Tinas out there.”

Over the course of the past month, in a lawsuit filed by the state’s top elections official, Peters and her deputy have been accused of sneaking someone into the county elections offices to copy the hard drives of Dominion Voting Systems machines. Those copies later surfaced online and in the hands of election deniers. The local district attorney, state prosecutors and the FBI are investigating whether criminal charges are warranted.

The events in Mesa County represent an escalation in the attacks on the nation’s voting system, one in which officials who were responsible for election security allegedly took actions that undermined that security in the name of protecting it. As baseless claims about election fraud are embraced by broad swaths of the Republican Party, experts fear that people who embrace those claims could be elected or appointed to offices where they oversee voting, potentially posing new security risks.

“I’ve always worried, working in this space, about people who want to harm our elections or sabotage them from the outside — the foreign actors trying to hack elections,” said Mike Beasley, a lobbyist for the Colorado County Clerks Association. “I’ve never until now had to worry about what goes on on the inside. And now we’ve crossed that threshold.”…

“If these local offices become weaponized in a way that subverts the free and fair election, then we no longer live in a healthy democracy,” said Tammy Patrick, an election-administration expert and senior adviser to the Democracy Fund, a nonpartisan private foundation that seeks to strengthen voting systems.