GOP Election Clerk Challenges Trump and His Backers



Cindy Elgan, an experienced election administrator in Esmeralda County, Nevada, is facing a recall petition filed by Mary Jane Zakas, a local Republican Party leader. The petition is part of the fallout from the 2020 presidential election, during which former President Donald Trump spread misinformation and denial after losing the election, which in turn led to widespread skepticism and conspiracy theories amongst his supporters. Following the local petition, Elgan has had to defend her job and the electoral process, in a county where the majority of voters support Trump, despite her own long service as an elected Republican and her efforts to explain and uphold election laws and facts.

Election Administrator Faces Recall Petition in the Wake of Conspiracy Theories

In Esmeralda County, election administrator Cindy Elgan found herself faced with a recall petition led by Mary Jane Zakas, a local Republican Party leader. Zakas, backed by conspiracy theories around the integrity of the voting process, was convinced Elgan was obstructing fair elections.

Zakas submitted a recall petition with signatures from voters accusing Elgan of interference in the elections. The claims escalated following the 2020 election when former President Donald Trump lost Nevada, but won 82% of the votes in Esmeralda County.

Claims circulated about rigged voting software, machines made in China, and George Soros meddling with voter rolls. Despite Elgan’s efforts to debunk these accusations, they persisted, and some local Republicans began to perceive her as a scapegoat. The accusations evolved into personal attacks, with unfounded claims about her ties to Dominion voting machines.

As vote security doubts spread, half of Nevada’s election officials resigned or quit since 2020. Election officials in other counties were also fighting their battles with conspiracy theories and false information.

In Esmeralda, the recall petition against Elgan needed at least 114 signatures, a quarter of the county’s residents who voted in 2022. The petition was submitted with 142 names, but each person’s information had to be verified against the county’s records.

By the time the recall petition was reviewed, questions arose about 67 of the 142 signatures. One petition contained a potential fact error on the affidavit, and a notary had signed on the wrong line of the form. The recall petition was ruled insufficient.

Zakas, however, was undeterred, promising to appeal and continue her efforts to challenge the process.

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