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Nevada’s Community is Engulfed in Election Fraud, Which Breeds Mistrust

Three witnesses who came from outside the state testified that voting machines could be hacked and votes switched without leaving a trace. No county, according to them, could be sure that its equipment wasn’t connected to the internet and vulnerable to malicious actors’ tampering.

For Republican Sam Merlino, who has served as the county clerk for more than 20 years, it was all simply too much. She merely felt outmatched.

In a recent interview, she said, “It just made me feel helpless.” Tonopah, an old silver mining town encircled by rocky and sagebrush hills about halfway between Las Vegas and Reno, is where she works.

She defended the system’s checks and balances that guarantee a correct vote count, but she was deluged with technical speak and theories she had never heard of. I was powerless to do anything but sit and listen, she admitted.

Even though there was no proof of ballot tampering, the county commission unanimously decided to recommend hand-counting the votes, so she decided enough was enough and submitted her resignation.

The most likely candidate to succeed Merlino is someone who has promoted voting machine conspiracy theories and falsely asserts that Trump actually won the 2020 election.

Merlino will step down next week and hand over election management to a new clerk in a county that is rough twice the size of New Hampshire.

The departure of Merlino and Nye County’s intention to eliminate voting machines and manually count all ballots provide a glimpse into the practical effects of the unfounded conspiracy theories that have proliferated across the nation since Trump’s defeat.

The actions also raise concerns about how local elections will be managed under the watch of sceptics of the procedure.

For more than a year, a network of individuals has been travelling the nation peddling conspiracy theories about the security of voting machines.

These individuals have concocted wild tales involving offshore servers, Venezuelan software, and the Chinese Communist Party.

Similar to what Nye County is attempting, they have attempted to influence state and local officials.

Although no state has followed suit, their efforts are successful in conservative regions of the country like Nye County, where there is a strong antipathy toward the government.

Some rural county boards have already threatened not to certify the results of their primaries this year, despite the lack of any concrete evidence of irregularities.

Nye County, which is the third-largest county in terms of land area in the nation, stretches from the strip malls on the outskirts of Las Vegas through barren rangelands where cattle graze and the military trains pilots and simulates missile launches and bomb drops.


There has long been a market for conspiracy theories in the nation. It is where a portion of the formerly classified U.S. air force base is popular with UFO and alien hunters.

Residents have brought up Infowars’ Alex Jones during public comments at county commission meetings, who has promoted false conspiracy theories about the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting.

Art Bell, a late radio host and conspiracy theorist who lived in Pahrump, the county’s largest town, until his passing in 2018, is commemorated by a plaque on a park bench.

Republicans consistently make up its electorate. Even though the Republican brothel owner had passed away weeks earlier, they supported him in a statehouse race in 2018.

Out of the 25,427 votes cast in Nye County in November 2020, Trump won by a margin of more than 40 percentage points.

However, that margin hasn’t stopped the emergence of rumours about voter fraud and ballot tampering.

Many people mentioned tales they had heard about QR codes, USB drives that were only partially inserted, and foreign hackers infiltrating Dominion Voting Systems voting machines at a recent Republican Party event and county commission meeting.

Although no proof for any of the theories has emerged, they are still being circulated in Facebook groups for Nye County.

“Just like anything, once a rumour starts or once something is out there, people feed on it,” said Merlino, recalling how a mistake on a sample ballot on social media turned into a full-blown corruption conspiracy theory about the printing company’s financial ties.

County commissioners voted to recommend hand-counting ballots rather than using tabulating machines in the upcoming November election because they feel they have a responsibility to act to restore public confidence in elections.

Election specialists doubt that hand-counting can be done anywhere other than in the smallest counties; Nye County has about 31,500 registered voters. The risk of human error, according to critics, is much higher than that posed by tabulating votes electronically and then auditing the results to ensure accuracy.

David Becker, the executive director of the nonprofit Center for Election Innovation & Research, which studies election procedures, said that everyone, including the most liberal and conservative elected officials, would attest to how bad the idea was.

The state, a recurrent presidential battleground and one of the six states where Trump contested his 2020 loss, could experience a political crisis as a result of a protracted hand-counting procedure.

It’s unclear what would occur if even one of Nevada’s 17 counties either fails to complete the vote-counting process within the seven-day time frame required by state law or chooses not to certify the results.

Hand counting may be against state law, according to the secretary of state’s office, which has scheduled hearings for August to talk about rules for any counties considering it.

The initiative’s backers are unfazed. At a recent Nye County “GOP Unity” event, activists claimed that support for hand-counting was based on unexplained irregularities and concerns about election tampering. They were speaking in a dimly lit Mexican restaurant in Pahrump, about an hour’s drive from Las Vegas.

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Leo Blundo, a Nye County commissioner who lost his reelection bid, opposed certifying the outcomes of the June primary because “you just don’t know 100 per cent,” he said.

Republican Tina Trenner of Pahrump suggested disconnecting the voting process from electrical power to reduce voter scepticism.

“They might be hackable. These machines could suddenly become accessible to the internet with something as simple as a phone that has a hotspot built into it, she explained.

At least one well-known Nevada Republican, Jim Marchant, who is running for secretary of state, the position that is in charge of overseeing elections, has also come out in favour of hand-counting ballots.

To spread the myth that Trump won the 2020 election, he has taken part in rallies and other gatherings across the nation.

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