Big Lie-Pilled Officials Are Now In Charge Of Election Admin In Counties Across The U.S.

After successfully getting their allies elected to county boards across the nation, election deniers may soon see the fruits of their labor if things don’t go well for Trump and Trump-backed candidates in the fall.
Election officials Mason Gregory Gilchrist and Dorothy Allen count ballots at the Shasta County Clerk & Registrar of Voters offices on February 23, 2024 in Redding in Northern Califonia's Shasta County. In this w... Election officials Mason Gregory Gilchrist and Dorothy Allen count ballots at the Shasta County Clerk & Registrar of Voters offices on February 23, 2024 in Redding in Northern Califonia's Shasta County. In this week's "Super Tuesday" primaries, security guards will monitor the back door at one Shasta County polling precinct -- a sign of the high political tensions in rural northern California. This rural northern California area mirrors the forces fracturing America ever since Donald Trump wrongly asserted that the 2020 election was stolen from him. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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The board of supervisors in a deep red Northern California county that has been battling election denialism since the aftermath of the 2020 election, recently appointed a new registrar of voters with zero election experience and a track record of promoting election misinformation. 

It’s a decision that has left current election officials in the county deeply concerned about the administration of the upcoming presidential election there, but it’s also reflective of a larger trend across the country, where county boards — in red and blue states alike — have spent the last four years absorbing and spreading lies about elections that are bound to be injected back into election processes in November.

The concern now, in Shasta county, and in the dozens of other counties battling the same issue, is what happens if the candidates these board members are supporting — in either federal, state or local races — lose in a couple of months. 

“If the candidates that are supported by those who are spreading these lies end up losing I think we could see an effort to try to subvert elections and our democracy entirely,” David Becker, the executive director and founder of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research told TPM. 

Last week, the Shasta County Board officially appointed semi-retired former lawyer Tom Toller, who has zero election administration experience — and who, influenced by various Big Lie conspiracy theories, has also advocated for moving to a hand counting tabulation system — as the county’s new Registrar of Voters. Toller was chosen over the current Assistant County Clerk Joanna Francescut, who brings with her both sixteen years of experience and public support

Toller has, as the Associated Press reported, said he would be supportive of a lawsuit attempting to overturn California’s ban on counties hand-counting ballots. “I think it’s a system that’s capable of being implemented and observed for transparency and fairness and accurate (sic),” he said. 

“I’m trying to try and wrap my head around what has happened here in terms of why would you pick someone that had zero experience over someone that had 16 years experience,”Mary Rickert, Shasta County board supervisor who voted in favor of Francescut, told TPM. “It just doesn’t compute.”

This phenomenon, of county boards and county level officials putting election deniers in leadership positions, and, in turn, injecting doubt into county-level election administration and certification processes, is not specific to Shasta County. 

In fact, since the 2020 election, as the Washington Point reported, county level Big Lie-pilled election officials in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania have all attempted to block the certification of votes in primaries and general elections. Each of these efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, but the efforts are particularly concerning ahead of 2024 because they raise the threat of violence and create an even deeper distrust in the election system.

It goes beyond vote certification and into the very vote tallying processes, too. Like Shasta County, county board members in Cochise County, Arizona, Nye County, Nevada, and Otero County, New Mexico, fueled by conspiracy theories and dangerous misinformation about voting machines, have all pushed to move to a hand counting system of ballot tabulation — a system that is proven to be prone to errors and inefficient. 

“It’s happening all across the country,” Becker said. “There has been a real effort to create an economy around election lies.”

Although Shasta County isn’t unique, the election denialism stronghold in that specific  California County might just be the one that has gotten the most out of hand, Becker told TPM. 

Toller’s appointment is indicative of the fact that the majority of the county’s board is “paying lip service to the continued lies about the 2020 election and others since,” he said. 

This is particularly concerning for current Shasta County election officials as they prepare for November, but Francescut is committed to still fulfilling her responsibilities as the assistant county clerk and making sure the upcoming election is run as smoothly as possible.

“I know that I can provide him (Toller) the best support and the best transition possible.” she said. “I want to heal this community. We’ve gone through too much. So me walking away right now is just not the right choice.”

Tanner Johnson, Shasta County Account Clerk, told TPM that Toller definitely “falls into the election denier camp,” but Johnson also sees the upcoming election as an opportunity to show him just how secure the county’s elections really are, and that perhaps Toller could help relay that to anyone else who is distrustful of the election system.  

“The way I look at it is we’re going to convert him and he’s going to come on board,” Johnson said. “He is going to see how well the team functions, how close we are, how supportive we are, and how adamant we are about keeping democracy afloat.”

In Johnson’s view, the election denial that is felt so heavily in his county stems from fear mongering and ignorance more than anything else.

“If there’s no one out there educating them about the process, then they’re just going to continue to listen to people like Trump who can make easy claims and stir fear in people,” he said.

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  1. Weird how this message board works fine and MM doesn’t. Am I being ShaDDOW baNNEd?

  2. yOu ARe noT aLOne. In yOur wONdeRinG.

  3. Avatar for xcopy xcopy says:

    The exception proves that it can be done.
    Makes the delay on MM all the more suspect.

  4. “There has been a real effort to create an economy around election lies.”

    Great observation.

    Similar to the politics industry, create a group dedicated to questioning, challenging, and ultimately undermining elections.

    It’s like the politics industry. “Government is the problem and you need a politician to fix it.”

    Really? Count on lying politicians to fix it?

  5. Is MM being left up to the states?

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