COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- After multiple El Paso County election judges were removed by their own party’s chairwoman, one of the judges tells 13 Investigates she is still unsure as to why she was removed and calls it "an attack on her integrity."
Candi Boyer along with two other Republican election judges were removed from their positions in September by the El Paso County GOP Chairwoman, Vickie Tonkins.
“I have highlighted those I believe no longer represent the El Paso County Republican Party and my Administration,” Tonkins said in an email to the El Paso County Elections Director obtained by 13 Investigates. “I do not want them to serve in any capacity for Election Judge/Poll Watcher in the November 8, 2022, General Election.”
State law permits a county chair to remove an appointed judge preemptively if they feel the appointee does not fairly represent the party.
El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman said he was obligated by state law to follow the request from Tonkins. However, he called the move “mean-spirited and punitive.”
Boyer says Tonkins told her she was removed for a separate reason. The same reason Tonkins provided 13 Investigates.
“(Tonkins said via email) I appreciate everything you've done, but I'm trying to get new people involved. And so we don't need you for this selection,” Boyer said. “That was a total opposite of what she told the clerk and recorder.”
"I have plenty of positions open. There's room for everyone that wants to participate in elections," Broerman told 13 Investigates. "There is never a shortage. So there was no need to remove somebody."
Boyer says she asked Tonkins for clarification on the discrepancy via email. All Boyer got back was a photo of herself working with a group called Peak Republicans.
“There's no basis. There's no basis for (the removal) other than she's upset because (Peak Republicans) have been doing things to promote the candidates. They are not her favored candidates, and so that’s why she is angry,” Boyer said.
"Mrs. Boyer is sorely mistaken," Tonkins told 13 Investigates in a statement. "While I refuse to even entertain her assertion, I have no personal issue with her. As I have stated, it is important to get more people engaged and no one should be doing this type of job for decades at the cost of others not getting an opportunity, as has happened numerous times."
Boyer says she first started getting involved with the Republican Party as an election judge in 2017, and says her political views have never altered.
The El Paso County Clerk’s Office confirmed with 13 Investigates that all three election judges removed from their positions by Tonkins were hired on to serve in administrative support positions within the county’s elections division. The positions are temporary.
"For the Clerk and Recorder to put people back in place I had asked to be removed is indicative of the nepotism/friendship hires that permeates too many of our government entities in El Paso County," Tonkins told 13 Investigates. "Because of this political behavior, many people have left the Republican Party. Our administration has been able to get many who have left to come back so they can make a difference working with the party. It is disturbing that the Clerk and Recorder office has made such an underhanded move toward members of the El Paso County Central Committee."
Tonkins told 13 Investigates she still has concerns about how votes are counted in El Paso County.
"I have been very clear that 94% of the people we polled in El Paso County believe there are issues with the way votes are counted in El Paso County," Tonkins told 13 Investigates.
“She has never, to my knowledge, come in to see how an election is run,” Boyer said. “She has never set foot in there to do that, and I find it real disingenuous for someone to criticize a system that they've never actually come in and observed.”
13 Investigates reached out to Tonkins for comment to Boyer’s remarks, and are awaiting a response.